Tag Archives: nehm

Enhancing the New England Holocaust Memorial at a Critical Time

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L-R Governor Baker, Mayor Janey, Addison Dion (grandaughter of NEHM founder Steve Ross), Survivor Janet Singer Applefield, Jeremy Burton

In 1995, Holocaust survivor Steve Ross (z”l) had a dream: to honor his family and every other victim of the Holocaust with a memorial in downtown Boston that would serve as a lesson to future generations. He brought together his Jewish and Christian neighbors and fellow survivors, and with the help of his friends, including Mayors Raymond Flynn and then Thomas Menino, he founded the New England Holocaust Memorial.

The Memorial (NEHM), six luminous glass towers, was dedicated in a public ceremony on the steps of City Hall in October 1995, with Elie Wiesel and many community and civic leaders in attendance. It was intentionally placed in the heart of Boston, along the Freedom Trail, so that its lessons would carry beyond the Jewish community and to all people visiting our city.

Yesterday, JCRC, along with our partners at CJP and Facing History and Ourselves, officially unveiled a new website and interactive mobile tour, which will greatly enhance the experience of visitors. The tour features testimonials from local Holocaust survivors, a short history of the Holocaust, the symbolism of the Memorial and resources for educators, all accessible through QR codes. Additionally, we have transformed the Memorial’s website, which now includes a walk-through feature that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. These components will open up the New England Holocaust Memorial as an educational experience for a broader audience and generations to come, ensuring that even more people have the opportunity to learn.

These updates were planned over two years ago, but the timing of this event could not be more appropriate. We are all aware of the alarming increase in violent antisemitism and hate speech and violence, as well as the astonishing, growing ignorance about the historic realities of the Holocaust. Just here in Massachusetts, one only needs to mention events of this year in Duxbury and Lowell, or even these past weeks in Winthrop and Brighton. Now is exactly when we need to publicly reaffirm the value of genocide education, and the Memorial in particular, as part of a broad commitment to teaching about hatred and the consequences of unchecked bigotry.

And so, we were grateful to our public and interfaith officials for joining us yesterday to recommit to Holocaust awareness and fighting antisemitism, as their amplified public voices are more crucial now than ever before; friends like Reverend Lorraine Thornhill, Pastor of Kingdom Empowerment Center, President of the Cambridge Black Pastors Alliance and Chaplain Cambridge Police Department who spoke powerfully of our shared work in combatting bigotry and antisemitism; and, Josh Kraft, president of Kraft Family Philanthropies, whose ‘Final Whistle on Hate’ initiative made this digital project possible.

It was my privilege to introduce Governor Charlie Baker, who has stood with us often, one might say ‘too often’ in this space, responding to rising white supremacy, violent attacks on Jewish communities, and desecrations of this sacred site. Even more special, for me, was the honor to welcome Mayor Kim Janey. The Memorial has a long and meaningful connection with the office of the Mayor of Boston, beginning with the essential role of Mayor Ray Flynn in the selection of this site, sitting just below the windows of his City Hall office.

As our survivor community grows older, we are obligated to retell their firsthand accounts and to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust lives on. The memorial’s new in-person and virtual touring capabilities capture their stories and enable present day and future visitors to bear witness.

As I introduced Mayor Janey in her first official event at this site as Mayor, as she recognized the presence of Mayor Flynn’s son, City Councilor Ed Flynn, and as we heard from survivor Janet Singer Applefield, and Stephen Ross’ granddaughter, Addison Dion, one could sense the spirit of l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation. A torch was being passed to a new generation of Boston leaders and the descendants of survivors, and to all of us in the community who will continue to bear witness in perpetuity.

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Survivor Janet Singer Applefield

Together, we remain committed to a high level of Holocaust programming, to the importance of education, and to sustaining and expanding the legacy of the survivors in the Greater Boston community. We do so through our work at the NEHM, and, for JCRC, by continuing to advocate with our partners for a genocide education mandate for all youth in Massachusetts.

Visit nehm.org to join us in this work.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jeremy

JCRC of Greater Boston to Rededicate New England Holocaust Memorial at Annual Yom HaShoah Commemoration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2018
Contact: Shira Burns

(617) 457-8673

(Boston, MA) - To honor local survivors of the Holocaust and to pay tribute to those who perished, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and its partners will present Rededication to Resiliency, a community commemoration of Yom HaShoah, on Sunday, June 10th, 10:30 am, at Faneuil Hall in Boston. This annual commemoration convenes the Greater Boston community to honor survivors and ensures that future generations remember their stories. This past summer, in two separate acts of vandalism ominously reminiscent of Kristallnacht almost 80 years ago, two of the iconic glass panels of the New England Holocaust Memorial were shattered. “Our entire city was affected,” said Mayor Marty Walsh of the vandalism. “This memorial stands as a symbol of democracy and freedom and that we will not forget what happened during the Holocaust. It’s our duty as a city to spread that message.”

The commemoration will feature a rededication of the New England Holocaust Memorial in a symbolic gesture of our community’s resilience and perseverance, as well as the student winners of the 12th annual Israel Arbeiter Holocaust Essay Contest. Rabbi Alan Turetz of Temple Emeth in Chestnut Hill will speak about his experience as a second-generation Holocaust survivor, and Esther Adler, who survived Kristallnacht, will share her reflections on witnessing the tragic and historic event.

Rededication to Resiliency is presented in partnership with the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants of Greater Boston, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Facing History and Ourselves, and Jewish Family & Children’s Services.

For information, registration or to support the event, visit https://www.jcrcboston.org/events/yomhashoah2018/.

Speaker Bios

Rabbi Alan Turetz, Second-Generation Survivor
Rabbi Turetz has enriched Temple Emeth as its spiritual leader since 1977. Graduating as valedictorian of his class from Adelphi University, he received his master's degree in Hebrew Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where his rabbinic ordination was conferred with high honors. He subsequently received an Honorary Doctorate from the Seminary as well. During his more than thirty years on the bimah at Temple Emeth, Rabbi Turetz has been an inspirational and highly esteemed leader of Boston’s Jewish community. He has served as president of both the New England Region of the Rabbinical Assembly and the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, as Rabbi for the New England Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, and has chaired the New England Rabbinic Cabinet for Israel Bonds. His incomparable sermons and mellifluous voice, whether for Shabbat or holiday services, are not to be missed.

Esther Adler, Survivor Testimony
Esther Adler was educated in Germany, Israel, and the United States. She graduated from the Teachers Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York and taught for many years at the Midway Jewish Center Hebrew School on Long Island. In 1981, she was invited to join the Department of Education of the Jewish National Fund as its Pedagogic Coordinator. She held this position full time until 1987 and until 1997 as part time consultant based in Florida. Esther is the coordinator of the recently established Holocaust Learning Center of Temple Torah and has compiled and published the stories of survivors. In 2014, she published a collection of poems, "Nature Eternal," and in July 2017 she published "Best Friends: A Bond That Survived Hitler," a novel based partly on her life. She is featured in the documentary "We are Jews from Breslau," which was sponsored by the German and Polish Government. Esther Adler enjoys an active life at Orchard Cove, a Hebrew SeniorLife retirement community in Canton, where she continues to write poetry, teach Hebrew and Yiddish classes, and lecture regionally and internationally about the Shoah.

About Jewish Community Relations Council
JCRC defines and advances the values, interests, and priorities of the organized Jewish community in greater Boston in the public square. Visit us at www.jcrcboston.org.


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Shattered but Not Broken

Early Wednesday morning a carefully planned day was disrupted by an event whose urgency would necessitate JCRC’s immediate attention and action: as Holocaust survivors and their children across our community awoke, they would learn about the desecration of a sacred space – the New England Holocaust Memorial (NEHM) – on the morning news.

By now you are no doubt aware that a pane of glass – etched with numbers the Nazis carved into the arms of their victims – had been shattered in an act of vandalism during the night. For JCRC – charged with the responsibility of convening our community together at this site and ensuring its centrality as a conduit for education and the transmission of memory –  several critical questions arose. How best to support our community in the face of this trauma? How to begin the process of healing? How to be assured that justice would be done, enabling us to move forward as a stronger and more united community?

The answer was one that defines community relations: reach out to our network, rely on the strengths of each of our member organizations, look to the relationships we and they have built over years, and speak with one voice as one community in the public square.

By the time most Bostonians woke up, our team was working with many of our members, in particular CJP, ADL, and the American Association of Holocaust Survivors, along with many individual leaders, and particularly those who led in the building of the Memorial over two decades ago. As a collective, we had more information, more resources, and more contacts with public leaders than any of us individually could possibly have. Together, we had a plan.

By the time most Bostonians arrived at work, we knew where the replacement glass panes were stored. We knew how the Boston Police Department and Commissioner Evans were handling the investigation. We knew that Mayor Walsh was personally involved and that District Attorney Conley was preparing to arraign a suspect in custody.

And we knew that in concert with our various organizations and leaders, we needed to demonstrate our strength and resiliency, to stand with our public officials in sharing this information with our community, and most significantly, to assert that while glass had been shattered, we were not broken.

By 9:30 am we released an advisory, contacted and briefed more of our members, and encouraged them and our partners to get the word out. By 11:00 am we were gathered, some 200 of us, together with Mayor Walsh, the DA, many members of the City Council, interfaith partners, and most importantly, leaders from the Holocaust survivor community.

We stood before the shattered glass in front of a bank of cameras – virtually the entire Boston media and many from afar – to support each other and to stand as one. We heard from Izzy Arbeiter, community leader and survivor of multiple concentration camps, who bore numbers on his arm like those on the shattered memorial. Izzy told us of being woken by his sobbing wife, whose inability to speak alarmed him into thinking that perhaps something tragic happened to a family member. We heard a resounding and unwavering message of support from Mayor Walsh and a message on behalf of Governor Baker who was unable to be in Boston this morning. We had a briefing from DA Conley, with his assurance that justice would be done. Thanks to the witnesses who fulfilled their civic responsibility by reaching out to law enforcement, and thanks to CJP’s 24-hour video monitoring, the case was already moving swiftly. And thanks to the foresight of the community leaders who established the NEHM, replacement glass would be on its way, to be installed in a rededication ceremony in the very near future. Speaker after speaker confirmed the most important message of all; that we were stronger than the person who broke the glass, that the sanctity of the Memorial would be restored, and the values of our community reaffirmed.

As the news broke, we were flooded with messages of concern and support from our interfaith partners. As the day went on we heard from concerned citizens, Memorial neighbors, and our own community members, with offers to help with the repairs.

None of this would have been possible without the strength of our network. None of this would have come together so quickly, and smoothly, without the relationships cultivated by our network of member organizations over the years. None of this would have happened if we didn’t have an organized Jewish community, committed to acting together and speaking with one voice on matters of gravest concern to us all.

I invite you to join me in making a gift to support the NEHM’s repairs (click the banner above). I invite you to join me at the rededication effort in the coming weeks (details to follow). And I invite you to draw – as I do – strength and resiliency from the reminder this week that we are stronger together and more powerful than the sum of our parts.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jeremy