This year Yom Hashoah began on the eve of May 4 and concluded at sundown May 5. Participants read the names of Holocaust victims, and where they were born and died. Each year these observances honor more and more victims, as the Shoah Victim’s Names Recovery Project seeks and discovers new information.
The program is a worldwide memorial project that began in 1989 and is coordinated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in consultation with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Unto Every Person There is a Name” provides the opportunity to remember the victims of the Holocaust by reading their names aloud. For many victims on these lists—six million Jews—it is the only time their name, and thus their life, will be remembered, as their entire family was murdered or there is no one left to remember them.
B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider represents B’nai B’rith on the international committee, which gives B’nai B’rith the honor of implementing the program and also enables us to participate in the planning stages. Every year a designated theme is selected by the international committee. This year’s theme was “Everything is Forbidden to Us, and Yet We Do Everything: The Struggle to Maintain the Human Spirit during the Holocaust.”
“Six million Jews perished in the Holocaust, and for 27 years B’nai B’rith International has ensured the Jewish community around the world that we will always remember the Jews who perished in the Holocaust,” B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman said. “‘Unto Every Person There is a Name’ provides a voice to those Holocaust victims and allows them to be remembered in a unique way.”
In addition, B’nai B’rith partnered again with Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity (AEPi) to bring “Unto Every Person There is a Name” to college campuses in conjunction with the fraternity’s own Holocaust Remembrance Day program “We Walk to Remember.” This year marks the 10th anniversary of AEPi’s commemoration event, with a record-breaking 161 chapters participating throughout North America, Europe and Israel. AEPi members walk silently across campus wearing a “Never Forget” sticker, provided by B’nai B’rith, to identify those who are participating in the program. B’nai B’rith also provided other materials that explain the importance of Yom Hashoah, and information pertaining to this year’s theme.
“Sponsoring ‘Unto Every Person There is a Name’ is a great honor for B’nai B’rith. This meaningful program is a powerful statement that demonstrates how vital it is to remember those who were killed in the Holocaust,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “We strive to educate and raise awareness about the atrocities that occurred during the Shoah, and this program provides a different, but solemn opportunity to do just that.”
On the morning of May 5, 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, the program memorialized Leningrad resident, Shmuil Markowitz Pevzner (1912-1991), an outstanding Jewish educator and hero. Pevzner was serving as the director of the Polish troupe in the Soviet Pioneers Camp in Druskininkai, Lithuania, when on June 22, 1941, the Nazis launched “Operation Barbarossa” and attacked the area.
Pevzner succeeded in rescuing 300 children, including about 140 Jewish children from Bialystok, Poland, and the surrounding region, and retreating with them by train to the safety of the Soviet Far East. For the 12 day journey, they were under repeated German aerial attack. Pevzner established a home for the children in the Udmurtia Republic under the Soviet government’s patronage, caring for them through extreme weather conditions and shortages until World War II ended.
Click here to read more about B’nai B’rith World’s event.