Oregon remembers Holocaust victims

Yom HaShoah- The Day of Remembrance
— “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” – A Reading of Names in Remembrance of Victims of the Nazi Holocaust
By Michelle Bombet Minch ,

Every year hundreds of Jewish communities around the world perpetuate the memory of the victims of the Holocaust through the program, Unto Every Person There is a Name, a public recitation of Holocaust victims’ names, ages and birthplaces on Yom HaShoah – the Day of Remembrance. Once again, the Oregon Area Jewish Committee and the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center are sponsoring this special Yom HaShoah program. This year Yom HaShoah will be held on April 19, 10AM to 5:30 PM at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

People from all walks of life will read from a list of over 6,000 names provided by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Research Center. The program’s opening ceremony will include poetry, prayers, and candle lighting. Readers this year include public officials, clergy and community leaders such as Portland City Commissioners, Dan Saltzman and Amanda Fritz; County Chair Jeff Cogen; Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle; Portland Police Chief Mike Reese; Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and several Jewish community leaders, pastors and others.

Last year Rev. Lowell Greathouse participated in reading of names and commented “it is an incredibly powerful and humbling experience to read the names. Sometimes they represent entire families. Each person reads names for ten minutes, before passing this sacred task on to another individual: Miksa Gruenfeld, age 82…Manek Gruenfeld, age 22…..Moshe Grinfeld, age 23….Pal Gruenfeld, age 3…..Isaak Grinshtat, age 5….Khava Grinshtat, age 27…Khasia Grinshtat, age 51…..Yenta Grinshtat, age 49….The list goes on and on. Millions of names…each one a human being crucified by the hatred of modern warfare. It is an experience beyond words, yet filled with deep meaning. Each time I participate, I am struck by the fact that as I’m handed a list of names to read that right there under my feet are the names of hundreds of Portlanders, who are remembered in the brickwork of Pioneer Square because their financial gifts made something special possible. It is always such a haunting image in my mind….to be reading the names of people who vanished for no reason, while standing on the names of people who are remembered for their contributions to our community’s living room.

By personalizing the individual tragedy of the dead and of the survivors, this project seeks to defy dangerous trends of indifference and historical revisionism which deny that the Holocaust ever happened. Moreover, by keeping the memory of the victims alive, we fulfill.

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