Christian and Jewish Communities Join to Vow “Never Again” in March and Program to Commemorate the Holocaust
Vowing, “Never again,” hundreds from the South Palm Beach County Jewish and Christian communities came together to commemorate the Holocaust in solidarity, with a march and an interfaith, intergenerational program coordinated by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. They gathered on Sunday, May 1, 2016, a few days before Yom HaShoah, in the Boca Raton Christian School (BRCS) gymnasium at 3:00 p.m.
Chaplain Greg Calder of BRCS set the tone with an opening prayer, asking “How can we avoid making the same mistakes?” and responding with a call for maintaining hope and faith, and working together.
Leaving the school, the group walked half a mile to Temple Beth El of Boca Raton. Walkers from throughout the community included many rabbis and Christian clergy, as well as Congressman Ted Deutch, Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie and City Council Members Robert Weinroth and Scott Singer.
Beginning the deeply moving Interfaith Holocaust Commemorative Remembrance Program at Temple Beth El following the march, Marla Weiss Egers, Executive Vice President for the Federation, welcomed the diverse guests to “this annual gathering of our community to observe the Holocaust, honor our survivors and remember those lost.” Egers said, “The Holocaust was a particular act of evil committed against a particular people. Yet, through our experiences we have also come to understand the universal dimension of suffering and evil. The Holocaust was not just a crime against Jews; it was a crime against humanity. Together, we raise public awareness of the Holocaust and help provide enduring meaning for its memory, so these atrocities will never again be repeated.”
Boca Raton Police Department Chaplain Scott Salisbury provided an opening prayer before Norman Frajman, a local Holocaust survivor, shared his story. Frajman, appeared onstage alongside the striped jacket with a yellow triangle that he wore through several labor and death camps after surviving the Warsaw Ghetto.
Frajman shared his belief that being Jewish or Christian is not a dividing factor in addressing evil and genocide, which continue to the present day. “What matters,” he says, “is that you are good to other people. Any organization, religion or race may be selected for extinction. Some survived the Holocaust through the compassion of non-Jews who knew it was the right thing to do. Don’t be bystanders. Bring the spirit of righteousness into our lives.”
“Remember and Never again,” said Frajman in his closing, before receiving a standing ovation. “Today and every day I serve as a witness so we, especially our younger generation will remember and learn.”
Following Frajman's remarks, Leah Avni, a sophomore at Florida Atlantic University who counts three Holocaust survivors among her four grandparents, gave a student's perspective. Avni described being accompanied by local survivors on the March of the Living in high school, as she sat on the spot at a camp in Poland where one great aunt was directed to the right to live, while her other great aunt with her son were directed left toward death.“
"I could never imagine what it was like to see the actual places where such horrible things happened – and then we went on to discover the vibrant country of Israel where our people rose from the ashes,” Avni said. "Now is the time we must ask our survivors to share their stories, so we can remember and tell them again and again.”
The crowd then rose as one as Rabbi David Englander of B'nai Torah Congregation and the Rev. Craig Burlington of St. Gregory's Episcopal Church led the crowd in reciting the United Vow against Anti-Semitism.
In a deeply moving ceremony led by Rabbi Dan Levin of Temple Beth El, six local Holocaust survivors, escorted by Jewish and Christian students, each lit a candle for one million of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. The program was stirred throughout by touching musical selections from the temple’s Cantorial Soloists Lori Shapiro and Michelle Auslander Cohen, with cellist Susan Bergeron and pianist Jenny Snyder.
The 2016 March of Remembrance was a regional, collaborative effort uniting the Southeast Florida community through churches, synagogues and community groups. Planning for the event included, among others, the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and its Jewish Community Relations Council, Boca Raton Interfaith Clergy Association, Boca Raton Christian School, Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, and The Flame Society.
In offering the closing prayer, Rabbi Levin said, “It has truly been a privilege for us to host our remarkable interfaith community for this beautiful commemoration of the Holocaust…. Our light shines most brightly when we come together in understanding and work together. May we eradicate hatred and bigotry around us, and replace these evil impulses with love and peace.”
Photo captions top to bottom, L-R:
- Rabbi Dan Levin, Chaplain Greg Calder, Rev. Craig Burlington, City Council Member Scott Singer, Cong. Ted Deutch, City Council Member Robert Weinroth, Mayor Susan Haynie, Rabbi David Englander, Rabbi Greg Weisman
- Marchers included Jill Deutch, Rabbi Dan Levin, Wendi Lipsich, Danielle Hartman, Cong. Ted Deutch
- Marchers covered half a mile on East Boca streets
- Marchers included Rabbi David Baum and Pastor Ty Riter
- Rabbi David Englander, Rev. Craig Burlington
- Speaker Norman Frajman
- Rabbi Dan Levin, Yaffa Englander, Eva Kolatka