Holocaust program recognizes writing-contest winners
By LINDA M. LINONIS
The messages of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance, touch the hearts and minds of everyone who respects the value of life and human dignity.
About 100 Valley residents gathered Tuesday afternoon in the rotunda of the Mahoning County Courthouse where the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation hosted its annual Holocaust commemoration program.
A poignant part of the program was the lighting of six candles in front of a special display on the “life and legacy of Holocaust survivor Bill Vegh.” The six candles represent six million Jews who died because of Nazi persecution. Rabbi Daria Jacobs-Velde of Congregation Ohev Tzedek in Boardman said educators help teach students about the tragedy of genocide. She also said parents who spend time with their children to teach them about past to improve the present are appreciated.
Children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors who lighted candles were Terri Anderson, Eva Cropp, Sam Kooperman, Rochelle Vegh Miller, Rabbi Franklin Muller and Rabbi Joseph Schonberger.
Suzyn Schwebel Epstein, president of the Ohio Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education, presented certificates and Holocaust-related books to students who were named winners and honorable mentions in the Holocaust writing contest. Epstein said she applauded the efforts of the younger generation to learn about the Holocaust. She said the entries were “broad based” and attest to the “academic achievements of youth.”
Poetry winners Miranda Canacci, a student at Boardman Middle School, and Veronica Erjavec, a student at Bristolville High School, read their poems.
Rabbi Schonberger of Temple El Emeth in Liberty, co-chairman of the Holocaust Commemoration and Education Task Force Committee, also congratulated winners, noting “it’s a blessing” to see all those who participated.
He said that students’ involvement in such projects is part of their education. The rabbi said “results and ramifications of racism and prejudice” relate to “the danger of remaining silent.”
Rabbi Schonberger said “the depth of the prose and poetry” reveals the talent of students. The rabbi said he hoped students used their abilities “to make the world a better place.”
Miller spoke on a new traveling exhibition on the “life and legacy of Holocaust survivor Bill Vegh” created by the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation. The exhibition may be borrowed by schools, places of worship, community centers, libraries and other public entities. There also is a 14-minute documentary film and “teachers’ trunk” with lesson plans, books and maps on the Holocaust.
Miller talked about her father’s commitment to sharing testimony about the Holocaust to educate people. She noted her father spoke to thousands of people about the “inhumane treatment” that Jews endured. “He provided firsthand testimony,” Miller said.
She closed with a quote from Albert Einstein: “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
Rabbi Muller of Congregation Rodef Sholom gave the invocation.
For information on the Vegh exhibit, contact Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, director of Jewish Community Relations of JCRC, 330-746-3251, ext. 183.