Community members joined together a number of times this past week to remember the Holocaust.
Government officials and Jewish community leaders were well represented at B’nai B’rith’s presentation of “Unto Every Person There Is a Name” on April 19 at Seattle’s Westlake Center.
Some of the speakers included Gov. Gary Locke, Seattle mayor Paul Schell, Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, King County Executive Ron Sims, former Washington State Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn and many rabbis, cantors and leaders of Jewish organizations. Speakers were interspersed with the reading of Holocaust victims’ names and recitation of the mourner’s Kaddish.
At noon, Steven and Leslie Strasser introduced the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center. Steve, president of the center, read its mission statement, adding that 20,000 students, teachers and community members were reached by the center last year. He said the center has a speakers’ bureau of 30 survivors and children of survivors, who speak to kids. He closed by reading a letter that a child wrote to a survivor who visited his school, vowing to stop putting down others or making fun of them because they are different.
Leslie talked about how her grandmother had been in the Holocaust and how she had lost family members for reasons of hatred and intolerance. She also read a poem written by a child, entitled “Don’t Forget Me,” that urges people to tell the story of the Holocaust to others. “The truth can save you, dear friend,” wrote the child. “The truth can save the world.”
Later in the afternoon, Locke made an appearance. The governor said that those who perished in the Holocaust are a reminder. “The names and the memories of their lives call out to us,” said Locke. “They call out to us not to forget.”
Locke proclaimed April 15–22, 2001, Holocaust Remembrance Week for the state of Washington.
Seattle Mayor Paul Schell spoke at the closing ceremony. “It’s a solemn occasion, but it’s an important one,” said Schell. “We should be able to learn to celebrate each other’s contributions, to celebrate each other’s differences.” Schell added that he felt the word “tolerance” is inappropriate. “I think ‘tolerance’ is a bad word and we need to speak of love,” he said. Schell proclaimed April 30–May 7, Remembrance Week in Seattle.
Brian Goldberg, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of the Pacific Northwest Region, was next to speak at the podium. He said that he thought the listing of names was important because people can remember what happened so it doesn’t happen again. “We need more people here to learn about the Holocaust,” said Goldberg. “People want to deny the Holocaust happened,” said Goldberg. “There’s nothing to debate on the Holocaust.”