BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center, in Bridgewater, officially dedicated its new Holocaust Memorial and Education Center during a special dedication ceremony Dec. 10.

The memorial is dedicated to the survivors of the Holocaust and their families.

“This is the beginning of what we hope will be an amazing opportunity,” said Nancy Gorrell, chair of the founding committee for the memorial. “We are remembering survivors and honoring them.”

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Gorrell said this is an ongoing project for survivors and their descendants to share their stories and learn about others.

“We even have a registry for descendants to talk about their survivors for generations,” she said.

The memorial, housed near the entrance to the JCC, includes a mosaic memorial that is symbolic of the suffering of the victims of the Holocaust, the survivors and the 6 million Jews who were killed. 

In addition, there is a database of materials with videos, photos and testimonials from survivors and their descendants.

“If everyone visits the memorial and then visits with a neighbor, we will reach our goal,” Gorrell said. “We hope that when you visit, you will go forth a changed person.”

At the ceremony, the members of the founding committee who arranged the memorial were recognized. With Gorrell, they were Mark Chazin; Laura Friedman, executive director of the JCC: Sandra Krawitz; Eric Lavitsky; Evelyn Rauch, who designed the mosaic memorial; Richard Skydell; and Walter Yosafat.

Rabbi Dan Selsberg, of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater, said the memorial is about allowing a memory to lead to action.

“Memory means to call to mind and commit to action,” he said. “Hopefully this memorial will affect the mind through the artistic beauty and soul to create real action.”

“Hopefully it will lead to a world that is better, and I hope the actions that led to the Holocaust never happen again,” he added.

Krawitz discussed two endowment funds being created, first to fund events that will teach about the Holocaust.

The second, Krawitz said is for a trip for March of the Living, a march done every year between the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps.

Krawitz said that, in 1987, a French student wrote a thesis saying that the Holocaust never happened. An Israeli student was offended by the paper and the resulting award of a doctorate (which was later revoked), so he created the march and trip to Israel to teach about the events of the Holocaust and keep the memories alive.

Keynote speaker Lawrence Glaser, executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, said survivor testimony is especially important.

“The acts of the Holocaust are so horrific, it’s hard to believe (without the testimony),” he said. “We have the testimonies of survivors pared with a focus forward. That makes this center unique, by bringing descendants together, it enhances the potential of it and ensures the testimony will not be lost.”

Skydell said they intend to continue building on the library of survivors in the future.

“We can make this a premier center for Holocaust learning,” he said.

Auschwitz survivor Margit Feldman was also on hand to celebrate the opening of the memorial.

“As an eyewitness to the Holocaust, with this memorial, people will be able to expand their understanding,” she said. “It will remind us of the constant need to be vigilant in the face of hatred.”

“On behalf of my fellow survivors, I thank everyone,” she added. “I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.”

Those remembered in the registry are Anton Adler, Siegbert Appel, Abraham Appelbaum, Sol Braun, Shlomo Berkowitz, Greta Weiss Berkowitz, Mala Eisenberg Borenstein, Morris Borenstein, Herbert Burger, Joseph Cige, Sarah Cige, Michal Feldhay, Helena Held Feldhay, Else Fuerst, Ernest Hercky, Greta Netl Hercky, Arno Herzberg, Anneliese Herzberg, Karl Kissinger, David Kogan, Helen Krawitz, Sol Krawitz, Michael David Kluger, Joseph Lichtman, Yolan Lichtman, Kathe Lippmann, Steffi Mannheimer, Joseph Markiewicz, Jacob Resnick, Sara Roskoff Resnick, Suse Rosenstock, Edith Rosenthal, Margot Schwager, Fred Schwager, David Schwarzberg, Sarah Cedarbaum Schwarzberg, Samuel Steinbach, Jadwiga Szermanski, Hyman Tuchman, Miriam Tuchman, Raisa Volkova, Erna Vollweiler, Hans Vollweiler, Henry Wertheimer, Alice Freund Winkler, William Winkler, Bert Wolf, Ita Wolf-Wagner and Zvi Wolf-Wagner.

Those honored in the registry are Frida Kloper Appelbaum, George Blank, Howard Behrend, Ursula Betty Behrend, Liudmyla Berenfus, Fred Cige, Maud Dahme, Susanna Davidovich, Margit Feldman, Riva Ferdman, Tova Friedman, Erwin Ganz, Mandel Glincman, Pola Glincman, Ilya Gurariy, Tamara Gurariy, Miriam Halpern, Ruth Hermann, Rose Hirsch, Eileen Ulla Honberg, Inge Eve Katzenstein, Rose Kluger, Renee Kuker, Ruth Ackerman Markiewicz, Inge Markowicz, Edith Lucas Pagelson, Irina Polyakov, Vladimir Polyakov, Lore Prag, Catalina Rosner, Liselotte Rosenthal, Alice Salz, Bernard Schanze, Henry Schanze, Morton Sherman, Jacob Weinglas, Anneliese Yosafat, Matt Yosafat, Edith Zelig and Victor Zelig.