March of Remembrance - 2013

 

On April 6-7, 2013, Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah), the "March of Remembrance" took place in 46 US cities with over 50 events across the United States. Thousands of people participated in making a public proclamation of honor to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, commemorating the genocide of six million Jews.  Together, we stood with the people of Israel and against modern antisemitism.. 

 

The Main MoR events for 2013 were held in Houston and in Dallas Texas. We were especially honored to have Pastor Jobst and Charlotte Bittner, the initiators of the March of Life movement, along with a delegation from their church in Germany join with us for the events in the United States.  The interest and impact the MoR is having across the nation is wonderful, with involvement from government officials, and newspapers and TV stations reporting on the Marches of Remembrance.

 

April 3rd - United Nations Church Center - NY City

The March of Remembrance began this year with a memorial event at the UN Church Center in New York on April 3. The event brought together sixty representatives from various Jewish congregations and Christian churches, who, together with Holocaust survivors and descendants of Nazi perpetrators, in a commemoration of the victims and to honor the survivors. Standing together to make a united declaration of support and solidarity with Israel, declaring; "Never again!"

 

The honored guests took part in lighting of six candles commemorating the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust and blowing the shofar. In an act of Tikkun, the victims and the descendants of the Nazi perpetrators shared their stories - restoration that brings healing for those who are still suffering today under the shadows of the past.

 

Elly Gross, a Survivor, and witness to some of the most atrocious tragedies of the Holocaust shared about losing her entire family in Auschwitz. But the aftermath of the war did not end the suffering and difficulties that she had to face. After the war, she married and began a new life in Romania together with her husband. But with the communist coming to power, her home was again taken from her. In 1966, her and her husband were able to immigrate to the US and begin a new life once again.

 

Markus Demmer, shared about his grandfather who had infamously been one of the most brutal policemen in the Polish ghettos. As a Nazi perpetrator, his grandfather had abused, raped, and arbitrarily shot Jews and Poles alike. In an act of healing and with a desire for forgiveness, the descendants of the German perpetrators gave a rose to each one of the victims and their descendants. As this simple but powerful act was made, the visible sign of restoration was recognized by all when the victims of these atrocities embraced them.

 

April 6, 2013 - Houston

On Saturday, April 6, more than 15 churches from various denominations worked together in order to organize March of Remembrance that covered the city with a symbolic Start of David. These locations established the points from which prayer walks were initiated to make a public declaration against anti-Semitism and for the support of Israel. At each of the six memorial events, Jewish Holocaust survivors shared their stories and met with the descendants of Nazi perpetrators from Germany, who broke the veil of silence seeking forgiveness. The witnesses of reconciliation and healing of the hearts were the streaming tears and embraces between the two parties. The Holocaust survivors and Germans then joined together to remember the victims of the Holocaust as they lit the candles together and recited Kaddish.

 

The Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, wrote a proclamation underlining the importance of the March of Remembrance. She wrote, "I hereby proclaim April 6-7, 2013, as Houston Holocaust March of Remembrance Day in Houston, Texas, in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and in honor of the survivors, as well as the rescuers and liberators, and further proclaim that we, as citizens of the City of Houston, should work to promote human dignity and confront hate whenever and wherever it occurs."

 

Kingwood (Northeast of Houston) Approximately 400 participants joined the memorial event and the March. The grand-daughter of an SS soldier shared how her life had suffered under the shadow of her grandfather and asked the descendants of the victims for forgiveness, which was granted. After that, a message from the Consul General of Israel to the Southwest, Meir Shomo, was read, and Pastor Jobst Bittner, from Tubingen Germany was honored for the "March of Life" movement.

 

Missouri City (Southwest) About 40 people gathered in the patio of a Lutheran Church, where Holocaust survivor Bill Orlin shared his moving story of the his miraculous survival of a death march in Poland. He also shared his belief that, "If the Christian churches had supported the Jews during the Nazi era, the Holocaust probably would not have happened. I want to thank the Christians who are supporting us today."

 

Spring (North), About 80 Christians took part in the memorial event, where Romanian Holocaust survivor Zoly Zamir brought along his daughter and grand-daughter. His great-granddaughter had prepared a video message for the participants. But most moving testimony was when the four generations, the descendants of Zoly spoke publicly about the very personal consequences of the Holocaust. The German delegation then shared about their family stories and asking forgiveness. Zoly Zamir and his family were deeply touched, and at the end of the event he said that he had "felt at home."

The mayors of Baytown (Southeast) and Hempstead (Northwest) also wrote a Proclamation for the March of Remembrance.

 

April 7, 2013 - Dallas

The Dallas March of Remembrance had approximately 230 participants gathered in front of City Hall in downtown Dallas and began a prayer walk to Founders Plaza. A second-generation Holocaust survivor shared her moving story about how she found her Jewish relatives who had settled in South America after the war. She also said that, "I used to be afraid of the German language, but now, after listening to this message of reconciliation, it is music to my ears." The grandson of an SS officer who had come from Germany also shared about the atrocities committed by his grandfather making a public request for forgiveness. The event was brought to a close as Zachi Shapira, a descendant of Lithuanian Holocaust survivors, proclaimed G-d's mercy and recited Kaddish together with the German delegation.


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