She’erit HaPleitah of Metropolitan Chicago, the umbrella organization for Chicago-area Holocaust survivors groups, held the Midwest’s largest Holocaust Memorial Observance on Sunday at Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue in Skokie. The event was co-sponsored by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
“As we come together today remembering the victims of the Shoah, we know that as a proud people we are not only victims, not only survivors, but also forgers of our own destiny," said Michael Kotzin, executive vice president of JUF/JF. "And so, as the years continue to unfold, let us vow to continue to remember the six million and, with their memory firmly in mind, to together face whatever challenges we may confront with conviction and with hope.”
Another speaker, 18-year-old Jason Silberman, the grandson of four Holocaust survivors, spoke of the responsibility survivors have to their grandchildren, and what his own "Third Generation" owes to the survivors.
Also on Sunday, Birthright Israel NEXT and JUF’s Young Leadership Division hosted a Yom HaShoah event featuring Warsaw Ghetto survivor Estelle Laughlin and a screening of the documentary, “A Film Unfinished.”
On Wednesday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn spoke at the annual Yom Hashoah ceremony in the Old State Capitol in Springfield. This is the 30th year of the event, co-sponsored by the Office of the Governor and the seven Jewish Federations of Illinois. Dr. Heini Halberstam (Champaign-Urbana) brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience when he talked about saying goodbye to his mother for the last time, though he didn’t know it was his last goodbye, as he joined a Kindertransport in Prague. He was one of nearly 10,000 children rescued from Nazi Germany, Austria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Lieutenant Gov.
Shelia Simon also spoke at the memorial.