HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - A bleak, rainy Sunday was representative of visitors’ emotions who were in and out of B’Nai Sholom Temple for most of the day as one person read out the names of those lost in the Holocaust.
For eight hours, members of the congregation and Huntington community sat at a table, microphone in hand, reading the name, age, hometown and death location of some of the 6 million Jews and others murdered during the second World War in the Holocaust carried out by Nazi Germany.
“Unto Every Person There is a Name” is conducted worldwide in hundreds of Jewish communities, so the names of those lost in the war will not be forgotten.
The program is conducted as part of an International Holocaust Memorial Program and in conjunction with Holocaust Memorial Day in the hope that it will strengthen the bond of memory, and the bond between the past and present.
Held annually since 1989, the program is a nationwide tradition that continues to diversify as it grows.
B’Nai Sholom Congregation reached out to community members before the event to invite them to join in the reading. A list was provided, but individuals who knew the names of relatives or friends who died in the Holocaust, from 1933 to 1945, were encouraged to read those names.
Tears were hard to fight back for those who listened in a quiet room as the names of those unknown to Huntingtonians were read.
A mixture of denominations united on May 1, some unable to speak due to the emotions as they rotated in and out the position reading the names.
Sarah Jackson, a woman who was leaving the temple on May 1, blamed her tears on the rain.
“It’s just hard,” she said. “I didn’t expect to have that type of reaction going in. It was educational, but you just sit and listen. It’s haunting. I felt paralyzed internally.”
Educational displays surrounded the temple, including newspapers and a display outfit of what children wore at the time.
At the completion of the reading of the names, members of the congregation recited “Unto every Person There is a Name” and “Candles of Joy, Candles of Sorrow,” poems written to express pain and sorrow from the war.
A candle lighting ceremony followed. Six candles sat on the table, one per million.
Rabbi Jean Eglinton was the first to light a candle.
“In memory of the helpless infants, children and teenagers who were cut down like trees before their time, before they had a chance to experience life,” she said. “We shall not forget.”
The Reading of the Names is not the only reason the temple opens its doors to the community. B’Nai Sholom congregation welcomed Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church earlier this year to worship on Easter after its sanctuary was damaged due to a fire.
Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, https://www.herald-dispatch.com
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