Local Yom HaShoah events have message for teens, others

This Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, many local Jewish groups will honor the past by making assurances for the future — assurances that the Shoah will never be forgotten.

To help accomplish that, many events on and around Thursday, April 19 (the actual day of the commemoration) will involve Holocaust survivors passing their memories on to teens.

At Sonoma County’s community observance, for example, “The thrust of the program is always to honor the survivors in the context of the transmission of memory,” said, George “Gesher” Calmenson, the event’s chair. “We try to involve as many young people as we can.”

Survivor Henry Libicki and student Ayla Uffenheimer at the 2009 Sonoma County Yom HaShoah commemoration phot/irwin shirwo

At the commemoration, titled “Remembering Home: Music and Memories of Our Lost Communities,” teens will accompany Holocaust survivors as they light candles, participate as performers and sing in a youth chorus.

Leah Kaufman, a 16-year-old high school junior who has been on the memorial’s planning committee for three years, helped to select the music, which will include klezmer, Yiddish and Ladino selections. 

Kaufman said that being on the committee with survivors has taught her lessons about perseverance. Also, she has been motivated to share the stories of survivors she has met.

“I just feel this need to make sure their stories are heard,” Kaufman said. “They’ve taught me how important it is to remember the Holocaust and to continue the memory.”

The event will explore three communities in Europe before and after the Holocaust through pictures, music and words. Survivor Henry Libicki will describe his hometown of Klobuck, Poland; Dina Angress, another survivor, will present on Amsterdam; and Shelley Bauer will describe her mother Anne Weinstock’s hometown of Marienwerder, Germany.

The event is free and will take place at 2 p.m. April 22 at the Friedman Center, 4676 Mayette Ave., Santa Rosa. For more information, visit www.jccsoco.org.

In its 23rd year, the Greater San Francisco B’nai B’rith’s annual “Unto Every Person There Is a Name” event will continue its tradition of involving children, who will participate in the reading of victims’ names.

Irv Abramowitz, an event organizer who lost five aunts and uncles as well as his grandmother in the Holocaust, invites local schools and B’nai B’rith Youth Organization groups to attend.

“It is important for the youngsters because they’re three and sometimes four generations removed from the Holocaust,” he said. “It’s important for them to know that these events happened and it’s extremely moving for them.”

The event, part of a national program of B’nai B’rith memorials, will take place at the George Segal Holocaust Memorial at the Palace of the Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave., S.F. It is free and will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 15. For more information, call (415) 752-9304.

Here are more Yom HaShoah events taking place around the greater Bay Area, which are free unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, April 17

“Voices of Our Youth: Stories from the Holocaust” is at 7:45 p.m. and will include survivors sharing their experiences. At Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland. (510) 318-6453.

Wednesday, April 18

“Voices of Our Youth: Stories from the Holocaust,” the community-wide commemoration in Contra Costa, will include presentations by Holocaust scholar Sam Oliner and composer-singer Julian Hornik (story, page 2a). 7 p.m. at Temple Isaiah, 3800 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Lafayette. (510) 318-6453.

Marin County’s Yom HaShoah commemoration will take place at 7 p.m. at Congregation Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon. (415) 388-1818.

Survivor Yaa’kov Harari of Berkeley will speak at the Berkeley Jewish community’s Yom HaShoah commemoration at 7 p.m. There will also be song, reflection and prayer. Jointly organized by three synagogues, it will be held at Congregation Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley. www.bethelberkeley.org.

“Yom HaShoah v’Hagevurah Remem-brance” for the North Peninsula is set for 6:30 p.m. at Congregation Beth Jacob, 1550 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City. Jeannette Kalker Ringold, a Holocaust survivor and member of the Bay Area Hidden Children group, will be a guest speaker. www.jewishfed.org.

Survivor Lillian Judd is escorted by Ayla Uffenheimer (left) and Raina Blumenthal at the 2009 Sonoma County Yom HaShoah commemoration. photo/irwin shirwo

The South Peninsula is also having a “Yom HaShoah v’Hagevurah Remem-brance” event. Set for 6:30 p.m., it will feature intergenerational songs, music, prayer and artwork. Israeli Consul General Akiva Tor will deliver a special message from Israel. At Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills. www.jewishfed.org.

An annual Yom HaShoah service set for 7:30 p.m. is sponsored by the Alameda Ministerial Association and hosted by Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Road, Alameda. www.templeisraelalameda.org.

Maya Schwartz will share her experiences as a child survivor in France at 7 p.m. at Kol HaEmek Synagogue, inland Mendocino County’s Jewish community, 8591 West Road, Redwood Valley. (707) 468-4536.

The Mendocino Coast Jewish Community’s Yom HaShoah Film and Service will take place at 7 p.m. There will be a showing of “As Seen Through These Eyes,” a documentary about art-making during the Holocaust and afterward by survivors. A service and a reading of survivors’ names will follow. At the Jewish Center, 15071 Caspar Road, Caspar. www.mcjc.org.

Thursday, April 19

Author Jeannie Klerk De-Vries will discuss and sign copies of her book “My Mother’s Nightmare,” about life in World War II Holland, at 7:30 p.m. at the JCC of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. $7-$9. www.jcceastbay.org.

The Napa Valley Yom HaShoah Memorial will feature a talk by Elsebeth Schoenberger, a Napa-based author whose family helped save Jews in Denmark during World War II. The 6:30 p.m. event also will include a youth orchestra and a candle-lighting. At Congregation Beth Shalom, 1455 Elm Street, Napa. www.cbsnapa.org.

A Yom HaShoah service and opening of Monterey Peninsula Jewish Film Festival will take place at Congregation Beth Israel, 5716 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel. The film, which starts at 6:30 p.m., will be a selection from the documentary “There Was Once,” about a Hungarian teacher who discovers lost Jewish history. $5. www.carmelbethisrael.org.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum will present a day of special, short gallery talks starting at 1:30 p.m. Curators and docents will discuss artistic responses to the Holocaust found in the exhibits “Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art, and Jewish Thought” and “California Dreaming: Jewish Life in the Bay Area from the Gold Rush to the Present.” At the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F. The talks are free with admission. www.thecjm.org.

Sunday, April 22

The Berkeley Holocaust Remembrance at 12 p.m. will honor East Bay survivors and feature cellist Isaac Pastor Chernak, Cantor Linda Hirschhorn and a capella group Kol Hadov. At the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley. www.magnes.org.

In “Yes We Sang!” three Bay Area choruses will join together to perform popular pre-Holocaust songs of communities that disappeared in the Holocaust. At 4 p.m. at the JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. $10. www.nigunim.org/Yes-we-sang.jpg.

A memorial candlelighting will take place at 10:30 a.m. at Temple Beth Hillel in Richmond. Talks will include a daughter’s tribute to her Hungarian rescuers and a hidden child’s homage to those who saved him. At 801 Park Central, Richmond. (510) 223-2560.

The Tri-City Interfaith Council’s service this year is titled “Treasuring the Stories We’ve Inherited” and will feature storyteller Joel ben Izzy. At 7:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Torah, 42000 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont. www.cwcbay.org/blog.

George Altshuler
George Altshuler

George Altshuler is the rabbinic intern at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco. He is on track to be ordained from Hebrew Union College in 2023. In 2012 and 2013, he worked as a calendar editor and staff writer in J.’s newsroom.