MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Sunday afternoon, April 23, under a bright and warm sun, a group of concerned people gathered in Ricalton Park on Maplewood Avenue. Eve Morawski, one of the march organizers, welcomed all.
The brief ceremony at the park included the blowing of the Shofar (a ram’s horn), and a prayer offered by Rabbi Jesse Olitzky of Congregation Beth El. Olitzky encouraged all to "never forget" and to remember and tell the stories of Holocaust survivors to the next generations after the survivors are gone. Olitzky asked that we be guided to stand up against all forms of hate and bigotry.
Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca read the Proclamation and mentioned not only the 6 million Jews but also the 5 million Soviets, Gypsies, Jehovah Witnesses, and assorted others who were put to death in the Holocaust.
South Orange Village President Sheena Collum recalled that she first became aware of the Holocaust in elementary school when she read the Diary of Anne Frank. In 2007, Collum attended her first Holocaust Remembrance ceremony and heard a survivor tell their story. Collum said “bring your neighbors and children to witness and learn about this. The work of the Interfaith Clergy Association and all types of people are what makes this community so special.”
Collum mentioned some of the challenges the towns have experienced this year, and stated that they responded by quickly working for a better tomorrow. Collum added that the acceptance towards all found in South Orange and Maplewood shows the world the true spirit of love and acceptance.
The park ceremony ended with the attendees marching down Maplewood Avenue and up Baker Street to Morrow Memorial Church for the 40th Annual Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Service.