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Crowd vows never to forget Holocaust

May 04, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Belle Gartenberg of Chambersburg lit one of six candles Sunday afternoon at the Sons of Israel Synagogue in remembrance of six million Jews, including several family members, who were killed in the Holocaust during World War II.

"I'm here in remembrance of the Holocaust. We're all here to remember so that we never forget," Gartenberg said, whose two uncles, an aunt and several cousins were victims of the Holocaust. Her late husband, Egon, lost his parents and brother in the Holocaust.

Nearly 140 people of all religious faiths joined in the candle- lighting ceremony that was part of the 20th annual Holocaust Remembrance Day Service for Franklin County.

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The hour long interfaith service held at the East King Street synagogue joined hundreds of thousands of congregations around the world for the same purpose.

The date, set aside by Israeli parliament decades ago on the anniversary of the ghetto uprising in Warsaw, Poland, in April 1943, is intended as the day when Jews around the world would honor and remember the victims of the Holocaust, said David Steinberg, rabbi of Congregation Sons of Israel and guest speaker at the service.

"It's not just about victimization and remembering our dead," Steinberg said. "It's also about the celebration of life every day."

Several members of the congregation and area clergy assisted Steinberg in the service by sharing readings and providing music in memory of those who died in the Holocaust.

Steve Schwartz of Waynesboro, Pa., who read from a passage about other victims of the Holocaust, said he attended the service to show support as a member of the congregation and of the Jewish community in Franklin County.

"This service connects us all together," Schwartz said, referring to the members of different faiths who joined in remembering those who suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany.

Mary Bolte, who attends Corpus Christi Catholic Church on Philadelphia Avenue in Chambersburg, expressed a similar reason for joining in on the day of remembrance.

"We're here for honoring relatives and to commemorate the Holocaust," Bolte said. "We're here as one and all."

Though gathered to remember a historical tragedy, Steinberg told the congregation that they must also recognize the widespread persecution of people throughout the world today.

"When we read in the Bible, `love thy neighbor as thyself,' we need to define neighbor as broadly as it can be to prevent future Holocausts and genocide," he said.

The Holocaust, which began in 1933 and lasted to the end of World War II, was an effort by the Nazis to deal with groups of people whom they considered to be inferior by establishing concentration camps throughout Europe, according to a brief history compiled by students from Bucknell University for the service.

With the onset of the war in 1939, the need for laborers resulted in the creation of forced labor camps, the historical piece states.

In 1942, with the adoption of the "Final Solution," the Nazi plan to murder all European Jews, the emphasis shifted from concentration camps to death camps. The sole purpose of those camps was to kill millions of Jews by gassing them and burning their remains, according to the student research.

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