Monday, September 13, 2010

(NEWS) Holocaust Memorial Unveiled At B'nai Israel Cemetery In Gainesville

"Classical music could be heard as one walked into the B'nai Israel Cemetery on Sunday morning. In the center of the cemetery, shaded by trees, stood a 6-foot tall, 7-ton tombstone, covered by a blue sheet.

The music marked the beginning of a ceremony to unveil a memorial to remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children who were killed in the Holocaust.

The ceremony followed the traditional Jewish unveiling of a headstone. Prayers were led by rabbis, and about 100 who attended followed their lead in reciting the prayers in Hebrew.

Alice Freifeld, a University of Florida department of history associate professor whose parents were Holocaust survivors, spoke at the ceremony.

Freifeld remembers stories her father told about the last day of the war. He was emaciated and had typhus. When an American soldier saw his condition, he threw up. She remembers her father telling her that he wanted to live in a country where someone would throw up at the site of what was happening.

The memorial is a way for new generations to remember the Holocaust, Freifeld said.

'Not all of the victims were Jews, but all of the Jews were victims,' said UF Hillel Rabbi Daniel Wolnerman. And with that, the sheet was removed and the memorial could be seen.

The memorial, made of granite, stands 6 feet tall and about 4 feet wide. A six-pointed Jewish star is carved on the top, with four of the six points shaded in blue. The remaining two are cracked and off-white to represent the number of Jews — one-third — who were killed in the Holocaust.

A verse from Isaiah — 'I shall give them in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name' — is engraved on the front of the memorial. It is the same verse that is engraved on the memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

Following Jewish tradition, stones were placed on the base of the memorial by those in attendance.

The unveiling was timed between the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, a time of repentance, which organizers said was appropriate.

Ralph Lowenstein, coordinator of the project, said the memorial is meant to show that the 6 million Jews who do not have a tombstone are remembered.

About 340 individuals donated money to construct the $36,000 memorial. Only Jewish members of the community were approached for donations, but non-Jewish individuals donated as well, Lowenstein said.

Jaquie Resnick, a member of the B'nai Israel Cemetery committee, said the memorial was unveiled at a poignant time in the community, between the Jewish holidays and at a time when issues with religion have come forward.

'It's very important to me to be able to have a place in our community to remember the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust,' Resnick said." (source)

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