Multitude of Yom HaShoah events around the Bay Area

This Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, some local organizations are taking a different, broader approach to the May 1 commemoration.

In San Francisco a group of 40 organizations, schools and congregations have come together for a day of learning from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a service of remembrance from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F.

The Holocaust Day of Remembrance event includes lectures, workshops and a reading of names by the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. The event was chiefly organized by the Jewish Family and Children Services Holocaust Center, the CJM, Lehrhaus Judaica and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Participants in the service of remembrance will include local rabbis, cantors, musicians, Holocaust survivors and children, including the winner of this year’s Morris Weiss Scholarship Award, a yearly honor given to a high school student who has written an essay on a Holocaust-related theme.

“We decided to do it at the CJM because of the exhibit on Charlotte Salomon,” says Anita Friedman, executive director of JFCS, “and to create an opportunity to inspire greater participation across the community — for young people and families, as well as survivors to come together.”

“Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theatre?” is an exhibition that includes paintings by a young woman who painted as a way to cope during the Nazi occupation. Along with tours during the event, there also will be a workshop in conjunction with the exhibit, “Art as a Tool for Survival.” The workshop will highlight case studies of individuals or groups who created art and music for psychological sustenance during the Holocaust.

For more information, visit

The Yom HaShoah commemoration at Temple Isaiah at 5 p.m. May 1 also takes an artistic approach — it includes a 20-minute production about the life of Pierre Seel, a gay survivor from France.

“The recent occurrence of gay teen suicides was the catalyst for our choosing to focus on gay survivors at this year’s commemoration,” says Riva Gambert, director of community programs at eh Jewish Federation of the East Bay, who edited the monologue.

“A Monologue in Two Parts” stars Nick Lane (as young Seel) and Kevin Copps (as older Seel) and includes information culled from Seel’s memoir, which Gambert found after researching diaries and biographies of gay survivors.

“Even though contemporary prejudice against gays in the United States cannot be compared to the horrific Nazi treatment of gays in the 1930s and 40s, we hope that the powerful voice expressed in the monologue will lead to greater understanding about the impact of anti-gay bias,” Gambert says.

For more information on the free event, call (510) 318-6453.

Many more Yom HaShoah events are taking place next week in the Bay Area. Events are free unless otherwise noted:

• “Unto Every Person There is a Name” takes place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 1 at George Segal Holocaust Memorial at the Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, S.F. Greater San Francisco Lodge #21 B’nai B’rith organizes the commemoration, which has taken place every year since 1989. It includes prayers, songs, chanting the names of those murdered and a candlelighting by Holocaust survivors. For details, email [email protected]

• City of Berkeley Holocaust Remembrance Day event is at 10:30 a.m. May 1 at Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley. It includes survivor honoree Murray Gordon, “Haunted Memories” author Lucille Eichengreen and music by Veretski Pass. For rides to the event, call (510) 981-7170.

• Yom HaShoah commemoration at Congregation Beth Shalom, 1455 Elm St., Napa takes place at 1 p.m. May 1 and includes a talk by author Paula Fass. The U.C. Berkeley professor will discuss her book, “Inheriting the Holocaust: A Second-Generation Memoir.” For details, call (707) 251-9092.

• “Enduring Voices: Living Memories,” Sonoma County’s annual community-wide Yom Hashoah commemoration is from 2-4 p.m. May 1 at the Friedman Center, 4676 Mayette Ave., Santa Rosa. It includes stories of survival, candlelighting and music. For more information, visit

• “Remembrance of the Holocaust and Acts of Courage,” for the Marin community, takes place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. May 1 at Congregation Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon. For details, call (415) 388-1818 ext. 111.

• South Peninsula Communitywide Commemoration at 5 p.m. May 1 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road in Los Altos Hills, will feature music, prayer, readings and artwork. For more information, call (650) 847-1716.

• Communitywide Holocaust program at 6 p.m. May 1 at Congregation Beth El, 1301 Oxford St. in Berkeley, will include a screening of “The Last Rabbi.” The film follows the life of Rabbi Leo Trepp, who was incarcerated by the Nazis and later settled in Northern California. For details, visit

• North Peninsula commemoration is at 6:30 p.m. May 1 at Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Drive, Burlingame. The program will include a procession of survivors, the reading of names and guest speaker Dora Sorrell, survivor and writer. For more information, call (650) 847-1715.

• “The Day of the Holocaust and the Resistance” at 7:45 p.m. May 3 at Temple Sinai in Oakland. The event will focus on Jewish partisans who fought the Nazis during WWII and will include speakers Murray Gordon and Henry Ramek, two East Bay survivors who took part in partisan activities during the Holocaust, and Mitch Braff, director of the Jewish Partisans Educational Foundation. Also, the choirs of Temple Sinai, Tehiyah Day School and Oakland Hebrew Day School will perform. For details, call (510) 318-6453.

• “Survival by Happenstance” takes place at 4:30 p.m. May 4 at Board Chambers, County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose. Auschwitz survivor Helen Farkas will speak and college students will discuss their interviews with survivors Joseph Rosenbaum and Isaac Goldstein. For more information, call (408) 299-5030.