Bringing the Holocaust into the light

Thursday, April 15, 2010 | by

With student artwork, heartfelt melodies and personal memories, Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills commemorated Yom HaShoah with an April 11 event titled “Emergence from the Ashes.” Some 350 people attended the hourlong service on Holocaust Remembrance Day, many lighting yahrzeit candles for family members or in memory of the Six Million.

The service included survivors being interviewed by one of six students from a local school. One of the survivors who participated was Jeannette Ringold (pictured above, left), who lit a yahrzeit candle as her interviewer, Arye Furman, looked on.

Students from South Peninsula Hebrew Day School and Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School had a big role in the service. They wrote essays, did dramatic readings, and created sculptures and displays that will be on display at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto through the end of the month. “Anguish” by Jamie Shen and “The Tree of Life” by Ethan Hickman (above, center) were two such projects on display at the service.

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photos/robert r. zimmerman
The event was organized by a committee from the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council’s Peninsula office; Helene Zimmerman headed it and Mickey Forman assisted.

For the first time in its 30-year history, the service featured a ceremony to recognize the second generation — the adult children of Holocaust survivors. That left one 86-year-old survivor a bit saddened. “Are there so few of us [survivors] left?” asked George Heller, originally from Hungary.

The evening service began with a shofar blast and ended with the singing of “Hatikvah.” In between, a community chorus led by Karen Bergen sang in Yiddish and Hebrew, local musicians (above, right) performed classical and contemporary selections and Beth Am Cantor Lauren Bandman sang “El Malei Rachamim.” Rabbi Sarah Graff of Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto recited the Kaddish of remembrance.

BAremembrance2Gideon Lustig, deputy consul general for the S.F.-based Israeli Consulate, attended the event and told how his family was affected by the Holocaust. “This is my story,” Lustig concluded. “It also represents the identity of a nation, reborn from the ashes.”