Edward Dressler, founder of Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, has been managing the program for about 20 years. He said it’s important because people should learn more about the events that took the lives of 6 million Jews.
“I learned about the Holocaust in high school, and after learning about it I realized the importance of education,” Dressler said.
Volunteers are invited to read the names of Holocaust victims along with their ages and places of death in 15- or 30-minute slots. Dressler said reading the names is vital, considering the recent rise in anti-Semitism.
“It’s important to have an intelligent response to it and it’s our responsibility to respond because it’s happening worldwide.”
Harry Lutz, treasurer of B’nai B’rith International Achim Gate City Lodge, said a ceremony like this is more crucial than ever because of false narratives that are denying the events that took place and attempting to erase history.
“It helps accomplish the goal of making people aware of the Holocaust and those individuals who perished,” Lutz said. “It also is a way to confront those who want to say the Holocaust never happened.”
Lutz is careful to use the word “individuals” when speaking about the Holocaust. Six million Jews were murdered between the years of 1941 to 1945, and for Lutz, talking about a mass genocide of Jews can take away the humanity of the lives that were lost. He said it’s important to remember these people were individual mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and cousins.
“I can reflect on family members I lost in the Shoah. It’s a moving experience for those in the audience and those reading the names,” Lutz said. “It helps you realize the individual living, breathing people that would have had a lot to contribute if they weren’t murdered in the Holocaust.”Each year the list of names grows as more victims are added either by family members or by Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. Reading of the names helps B’nai B’rith International unite Jews and brings awareness to Jews all over the world who have been persecuted, Lutz said, adding that he feels a sense of pride that more people are becoming involved each year.
“The number of Holocaust survivors is diminishing; when they are gone, there won’t be anyone alive to describe the experience,” Lutz said. “So, we hope to be able to pass along their message and accomplish the goal of making people aware of the Holocaust.”