Art and Poetry of South Orange and Maplewood Middle School Students to Be Displayed at Seton Hall University  

April 4, 2013, South Orange, NJ … The original artwork of nearly 100 South Orange and Maplewood middle school students will be displayed at the 36th annual South Orange/Maplewood Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Service on Sunday April 14 at Seton Hall University’s Jubilee Hall. The interfaith service will begin in Jubilee Hall at 4 PM, and the artwork will be on exhibit prior to and after the Service. 

The theme of this year’s art exhibit is “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.” Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students participated in creating art and poetry. The sixth grade artists painted butterflies and wrote poems for a large mural. Seventh graders drew self-portraits in charcoal with woven barbed wire, and eighth grade artists created figurative clay sculptures. 

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According to South Orange Middle School art teacher Ellen Hark, “The artwork and the poetry are all highly emotional.  This project is very special to me and to the students, with their responses as artists both inspirational and powerful.”  

The traditional March of Remembrance will be held prior to the Service at 3:15 pm, convening in Grove Park, South Orange and ending at Seton Hall. Local resident Larry Pantirer, son of the late Murray Pantirer, a Schindler’s List survivor of the Holocaust, is this year’s featured speaker.

Maplewood resident Jim Ferruggiaro, who has co-chaired the organizing committee for this event since 2009, commented, “It is especially significant that Seton Hall is hosting this year’s service for the first time in our 36th year.  Our program was founded by the late Sister Rose Thering of Seton Hall University along with Congregation Beth-El Rabbi Emeritus Jehiel Orenstein and the late Max Randall, a member of South Mountain B’nai B’rith. Ours was the first interfaith Holocaust remembrance event established in New Jersey.”

Also co-chairing the committee are Beth Randall Branigan, daughter of Max Randall and Eve Morawski, daughter of Polish Catholic Holocaust survivors, and whose father Michael was a leader of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.     

Members of the clergy from nearly 20 Jewish, Catholic and Protestant houses of worship in the South Orange/Maplewood community will offer prayers and hymns at the service.  Local resident Margie Freeman will open the service by sounding the ram’s horn or shofar, a centuries-old tradition of the Jewish people.  South Orange resident Cantor Perry Fine of Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston and cofounder of Voices in Harmony, an interfaith choral ensemble in Essex County, will direct the ensemble in an original performance created for this event.  Seminarians from Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary, Kearny will offer Psalm 133, an expression of unity, in song.  

Area survivors of the Holocaust, most of whom were children or adolescents during the second World War, will light 11 candles to represent the 11 million men, women and children – including six million Jews and five million Polish Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Slavs, Roma (gypsies), homosexuals, disabled children and adults and political dissidents – who were brutally murdered during the Holocaust.  Grandchildren of survivors Norbert and Greta Bikales will light 18 candles signifying  “Chai” or Life, according to Hebrew mystical tradition. 

This year, the Remembrance Service committee will honor long-time member Oscar Lax with the Sister Rose Thering Holocaust Education Award for his commitment to Sister Rose’s belief that education will make the world a more tolerant place.

This is the first time Seton Hall University is hosting this annual event, traditionally  held in community churches and synagogues. Seton Hall students will participate as hosts to the community and survivors. The Holocaust Remembrance Service has been incorporated into the University’s yearlong Building Bridges: Sixty Years of Jewish-Christian Dialogue, commemorating the University’s significant role in promoting the Church’s relationship with the Jewish community at local, national, and international levels.

The Remembrance Service is free of charge and open to the public.  Entrance to the event is through the front gate of SHU on South Orange Avenue.  Parking is available.  The community is encouraged to bring cans and boxes of non-perishable food donations to the event for later distribution by the Food Bank of New Jersey.  For more details and background visit www.rememberandtell.org.