Holocaust victims honored in ceremony
HUNTINGTON -- The math is mind-boggling.
It would take approximately eight years and three months to read the names of the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust if you read 2,000 names per day, says Herman Glaser.
Glaser led the reading of somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 names Sunday at B'Nai Sholom Congregation in Huntington. He started the memorial service, called "Unto Every Person There is a Name," 24 years ago. It now coincides with Yom Hashoah/Holocaust Memorial Day, which has become a tradition among Jewish communities worldwide.
"This is an event in history that we can never forget," Glaser said. "Every year, fewer and fewer people who made it through the Holocaust are alive to tell the stories, so it's up to us to make sure people remember the horrors of it."
Seventy-five to 100 volunteers, including dignitaries such as Mayor Steve Williams and Marshall President Stephen Kopp, read names from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. before the service ended with songs and prayers of remembrance.
To talk about the Holocaust victims collectively is one thing, but to read their names and ages brings an identity to each victim, said Rabbi David Wucher, who retired from the synagogue two years ago.
"It's also important to remember the consequences of bigotry and hatred and what it can lead to if it's not vigorously opposed," Wucher said. "Many of us in the congregation have personal ties as well. It's not just names on a list. It's family."
The memorial service can be a moving experience for many people, regardless of their faith, Glaser said. He noted that other churches in the community now attend the service.
Roger and Nancy Lyons, who attend Prince of Peace Freewill Baptist Church, each read names for a few minutes during the service.
"The hardest part for me is the young names," Roger Lyons said as he wiped away tears. "I read the name of a 1-year-old child. I don't know how anyone cannot be touched by that."
B'Nai Sholom also encourages its younger members to attend the service to understand the gravity of the Holocaust, Glaser said. Members of the congregation's Sunday School read some of the names for two hours.
"They're the ones we have to reach out to to make sure this is never forgotten," he said.
Follow H-D reporter Bryan Chambers on Facebook or Twitter @BryanChambersHD.
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