For a quarter century, B’nai B’rith International has proudly been the official North American sponsor of the Yom Hashoah program “Unto Every Person There is a Name” —and 2014 was no different. Communities across the continent came together on the 27th day of the month of Nissan (this year ceremonies were held on April 27 and 28) on the Jewish calendar to read the names of the victims of the Shoah and where and when they were born and died. These observances honor more victims each year, as the Shoah Victim’s Names Recovery Project seeks additional information.
The program is a worldwide memorial project created by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in 1989—Israel’s official Holocaust museum and research center—and this year’s theme was “Jews on the Edge 1944: Between Annihilation and Liberation.” The program is under the auspices of the Office of President of the State of Israel. B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider represents B’nai B’rith on the international committee that arranges the thematic materials from Israel, giving B’nai B’rith not only the honor of implementing the program, but having a hand in the planning stages as well.
“It’s a distinct point of pride that B’nai B’rith has been involved with ‘Unto Every Person There is a Name’ for 25 years,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “For many of the names being read, this will be their only mention in any type of memorial. The importance remembering cannot be understated.”
In addition to community observances, for the sixth consecutive year, B’nai B’rith partnered with the Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity for its “We Walk to Remember” campaign held on more than 130 campuses throughout the United States, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom. AEPi members walk silently across campus wearing a “Never Forget” sticker and also participate in “Unto Every Person There is a Name” programming. At many campuses, the ceremonies extended beyond B’nai B’rith and AEPi with numerous Jewish student groups participating.
The combination of the two powerful programs has created a lasting impact on campuses across the globe. It demonstrates that young people on campus understand the importance of remembering and have taken on the responsibility to tell the story of the victims of the Holocaust.
Notable observances of “Unto Every Person There is a Name” were held in the Washington, D.C. metro area, at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and a joint B’nai B’rith-AEPi program at the University of Texas at Austin had more than 100 readers rotate during a 24-hour period naming those who perished.
The B’nai B’rith Center for Jewish Identity provides programming materials and support with the generous sponsorship of Kurt and Tessye Simon, of blessed memory.
“It’s always an emotional day taking part in a program such as ‘We Walk to Remember,’” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “I was honored to be invited by AEPi to walk with its Georgetown chapter and I continued to be truly impressed by powerful statement these college students make in keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive year in and year out.”
On the morning of April 28, the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) held a unique joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony dedicated to the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. Taking place at the Martyrs' Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza with several hundred people in attendance, seven Rescuers Citations were awarded to Jews who employed subterfuge, forgery, smuggling, concealment and other methods—ensuring some Jews survived the Holocaust in Europe or escaped to a safe haven.