The Five Towns turned out in a massive showing of support and remembrance at the annual community-wide Yom Hashoah memorial service for the six million martyrs, on Sunday night at Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence.
An overflow crowd of more than 1,000 filled the main sanctuary, with many standing on the periphery and others watching a live video feed in the ballroom. Event co-chair Dana Frenkel called for no applause, and the audience sat in rapt silence for the entire program. Twenty four area synagogues participated.
Sandy Shmuely directed the HALB choir, accompanied by guitar, as they sang Gam ki ailaych bgai tzalmavet, Ani Maamin, and Hannah Senesh’s Eli, Eli. Some of the children stepped forward announcing their names and the name of Holocaust survivor relatives they are named after. Some were named for those who died in the camps. After participating, the fifth grade performers were silently ushered out.
Excerpts from videos of local survivor testimonies were screened. The six survivors shown were later called up to each light a memorial candle at the end of the program. Frieda Rappaport Fogel survived the war masquerading as a Christian with false identification papers until age 18. She went to America after the war “to start life over as a Jew.”
Fogel called on listeners to “appreciate life, make every minute count” that “Jewish life is very important” and that not living a Jewish life makes us accomplices to what Hitler did to the Jewish people.
Dr. Moshe (Maurice) Katz survived the Holocaust in hiding, separated from his siblings and was liberated by the Russians. Rudy Rosensweig survived labor camps, forced to build barracks and factories for the Germans and after the war escaped from Cyprus, fought in Latrun, worked in Zim lines and later came to New York where he married and raised a family. Harry Engelman spoke through his tears as he recalled his time in a slave labor camp where many died.
“I had hope,” he said, “faith that the Nazis will never succeed, evil cannot succeed.” He stressed the need to remember, “most are sick and tired of hearing it” but “if we don’t remember the past we will make the same mistakes over again.”