Youth program to be held in memory of Holocaust victims

April 15, 2001

Youth program to be held in memory of Holocaust victims


Rabbi Janice GarfunkelPhoto: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Rabbi Janice B. Garfunkel recalled the story of her father and grandparents being forced to a work camp formerly located in Romania during the Holocaust.


Her father, Felix Garfunkel, was 9 years old and just out of second grade before being sent to the camp with his parents, Marcus and Frieda. The family spent nearly four years under harsh conditions at the camp, called Moghilev-Podolsk, which is now part of the Ukraine.

They managed to stay together and survive, before eventually coming to the United States and settling in Ohio. Her father is now a retired radiologist in Dayton, Ohio.


But similar endings can't be said for many Jewish families whose relatives were sent to Nazi-run camps.

Six million Jews never made it out and instead were killed at the hands of Nazi leader Adolph Hitler's subordinates from 1933 until the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945.

In their memory, Janice Garfunkel's Congregation B'Nai Abraham will hold a public Holocaust program Wednesday - Holocaust Memorial Day - at the synagogue in Hagerstown. The congregation's youth group will present program.

"I imagine we'll have a nice turnout from our congregation, and I hope we'll get a nice turnout from the community as well," Garfunkel said.

Carole Fitzwater, youth advisor, said about 15 high school students from the congregation worked on the program.

The students will each read a paragraph recounting scenes from the Holocaust, share poems, light six Yahrzeit candles, each representing one million of the six million Jews killed.

While each candle is lit, 10 names of relatives of congregation members who perished during the Holocaust will be read.

A Yahrzeit candle is traditionally lit on the anniversary of a death. The candles will be yellow to represent the yellow arm bands Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust for identification.

Between 26-28 slides from the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, Israel, will also be shown.

Garfunkel said the slides are of the Warsaw Ghetto, in which 30 percent of the city's Jewish population was forced to live in an area that made up less than 3 percent of the city. The photos were taken by a Nazi soldier on his birthday.

"Most of those people in the pictures were killed," she said.

Ten percent of the Jewish population died in the Ghetto every month, mostly of starvation.

She said the Nazis controlled how much the Jews ate by giving them rations, which equaled about 187 calories a day per person.

"The only way people didn't die was because of illegal smuggling," Garfunkel said. "You couldn't survive off what they gave."

The program will also feature choir singing and students will play the theme from Schindler's List.

Garfunkel hopes the program is made into a yearly event.

"There's nothing in Hagerstown on a regular basis to commemorate the Holocaust, and it seems like there should be," she said.

"It's important for everyone to realize what can happen when you let intolerance exist," Fitzwater said. "All community members are welcome."

Congregation B'Nai Abraham is located at 53 East Baltimore St. in Hagerstown. The program will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. For more information, contact the synagogue at 301-733-5039.

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