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Holocaust recounts other atrocities

May 01, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Reflecting on past genocide at the 29th annual Holocaust Memorial Service in Chambersburg, the 175 people in attendance were asked to turn their thoughts to the current situation in the Darfur region of the Sudan.

"Sadly, we have not eliminated mass murder and genocide from our midst. Our community must act to end this humanitarian crisis," said Sharon Ballan, a student rabbi from Congregation Sons of Israel, Chambersburg.

An offertory benefiting American Jewish World Service and its efforts to aid Darfur, was taken just before the Towne Singers performed a cantata first presented at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1998.

"It's honoring and remembering the lives of the 11 million," the Rev. William Harter of Falling Spring Presbyterian Church said. "It's a very important annual event in the life of the community."

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Held at the First United Methodist Church on South Second Street, the innerfaith service was sponsored by the United Churches of the Chambersburg Area, the Evangelical Fellowship of Cumberland Valley, the Chambersburg Area Ministerium and the Chambersburg Area Ministerial Alliance.

Interview transcripts, historical data and the story of Irena Augustyska Kafka formed readings that were interspersed with haunting melodies as the 24 voices of the Towne Singers joined as one.

Candles at the altar flickered after being lighted by local youth, not so unlike the 2 million children who died during the Holocaust.

"It's just amazing that kind of thing is still hanging around," Harter said.

Sunday's service ran concurrently with a rally in Washington, D.C., supported by the Save Darfur Coalition. That organization is looking to have 1 million postcards signed to "raise public pressure on the Bush administration to end the genocide and build a lasting peace in the Darfur region of western Sudan," according to its Web site.

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