For the 69th
year, hundreds of Holocaust survivors will come together Sunday, April 27, in
what traditionally has been the largest gathering of survivors in the Midwest –
the Annual Holocaust Memorial Service.
Organized by Sheérit
HaPleitah of Metropolitan Chicago, the umbrella organization for area Holocaust
survivor groups, the collective memorial observance will begin at 1:30 p.m. at
Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue, 8825 East Prairie Road, Skokie. The
event is co-sponsored by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of
“This annual memorial honors the memory of our six million martyrs, including one
and a half million innocent children who perished only because they were Jews,”
said Charles Lipshitz, president of Sheérit HaPleitah of Metropolitan Chicago. “We
also will observe the 69th anniversary of the liberation from the concentration
camps, and honor the contributions that Holocaust survivors have made to
“We cannot let the world
forget that a modern society, Nazi Germany, was capable of committing such
atrocities,” Lipshitz said. “Many reactionary forces are hard at work to change
history and deny that the Holocaust ever happened. We must be vigilant not to
allow this to occur.”
“The number of Holocaust survivors is dwindling to a precious few as we
approach the 69th anniversary of the end of World War II,” said Larry Schwartz,
president of the Association of Descendants of the Shoah - Illinois, Inc. “We,
as children of survivors, are taking an active role in reminding the world that
the crimes of Nazi Germany can happen again if we do not maintain vigilance.
The legacy of the Holocaust survivors will be sustained and enhanced through
our education and outreach efforts, for we shall never forget the sacrifices of
the Six Million Jews who did not live to see the Nazi war machine defeated.”
“We will not remain silent
in the face of Iranian, Arab, or any other entity’s wish to destroy Israel,”
said I. M. Hubscher, co-chairman of the community commemoration. “This circle
of violence must stop, and we, as children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren
of survivors will continue to lead the effort to eradicate hate, death and
At the 2014 memorial service, Regine
Schlesinger, veteran anchor/reporter for WBBM Newsradio 780 and the daughter of
Holocaust survivors who were on Schindler’s List, will be one of the featured
speakers. Others will include the Honorable Roey Gilad, Consul General of
Israel to the Midwest; Mayor George Van Dusen of Skokie; and David T. Brown,
Board Chair of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
A high point of the service
is the candle-lighting ceremony honoring the six million Jews who perished. The
ceremony will be conducted by Sherry Rubinstein Warso of Dor L’Dor, the Young
Leadership Division of Sheérit HaPleitah, with participation by children and
grandchildren of local-area Holocaust survivors.
Winners of the first Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) essay contest will be
announced by David Levine, the new chairman of the memorial service. Officials
of the Jewish War Veterans-Skokie Post 328 and Jewish Boy Scout Troops #69 and
#243 will present colors. Proclamations by Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm
Emanuel of Chicago and Mayor George Van Dusen of Skokie will be published in
the ad journal.
The village of Skokie is supportive of Sheérit HaPleitah's efforts to sustain
the memory of the Holocaust. When the
American Nazi Party chose Skokie in 1978 for its infamous demonstration, Sheérit
HaPleitah helped lead the opposition, with the assistance of former Mayor
Albert J. Smith and the village trustees. The struggle was portrayed in a
made-for-television movie starring Danny Kaye.
A documentary by Todd
Whitman about the days leading up to the infamous 1978 demonstration aired on
PBS in January 2013. The film featured many Jewish survivors of the Holocaust,
as well as activists from the next generation who stood ready to protect the
Sheérit HaPleitah later led
the movement to construct a monument in memory of the Holocaust victims on the
Skokie Village Green, on land donated by the village and from funds collected
from area individuals and synagogues and the Jewish United Fund.
The sculpture by Edward Chesney, depicting three generations, torn prayer
books, a menorah, and other items symbolizing the destruction of European
Jewry, was unveiled on May 31, 1987.
That night, the memorial received worldwide attention after it was
desecrated with spray paint, including the epithet "Jew liars" and
other messages of hate.
"This insidious act made the message on the dedication plaque even more
meaningful," said Lipshitz. It
reads, “This monument will remain in perpetuity as a reminder of what hate can
do to mankind if decent people are not vigilant to forestall such a calamity in