Romanian Ambassador to Israel Radu Ioanid Speaks at Jewish Rescuer Ceremony in Israel
(Washington, D.C., April 8, 2021)–B’nai B’rith International marked Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, with global commemoration ceremonies, both in person and virtual, including a unique event on Clubhouse with young leaders from around the world.
B’nai B’rith held its annual observance of the “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” program to honor Holocaust victims by reading their names and where and when they were born and died. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event was held virtually through Zoom, as it was last year.
Tammy Ben-Haim, minister for public diplomacy at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. addressed participants and attendees prior to the reading. “We rely on these memorials and ceremonies to both remind those of us who know and remember and to educate future generations of Jews and non-Jews alike so we never forget,” Ben-Haim said.
B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin opened the ceremony and introduced this year’s theme: “Until the Very Last Jew,” focused on 1941 and the Eighty Years Since the Onset of Mass Annihilation. “In their memory, and all of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, we gather to remember,” Mariaschin said.
Leaders representing communities and college campuses around the world joined the virtual ceremony. They included:
- Sheila Mostyn, Chair, B’nai B’rith Center for Jewish Identity, Toronto, Canada
- James Fleischer, Executive Director, Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, Indianapolis, Indiana
- Simone Hofmann, Member, International Council, B’nai B’rith, Frankfurt, Germany
- Roberto M. Nul, B’nai B’rith International Senior Vice President, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Serge Dahan, President, B’nai B’rith Europe, Paris, France
- Trey Meehan, Chair, B’nai B’rith Connect-DC, Washington, D.C.
- Ira Bartfield, Chair, B’nai B’rith Center for Community Action, Arlington, Virginia
- Alan Schneider, Director, B’nai B’rith World Center, and member of the International Unto Project Committee, Jerusalem, Israel
- Charles O. Kaufman, President, B’nai B’rith International, Austin, Texas
The reading began with Mostyn reading the poem “Unto Every Person There is a Name” by Israeli poet Zelda. Seven readers honored the memory of victims by reciting their names, birth places, ages and places of death. The reading concluded with the Mourner’s Kaddish.
Kaufman offered closing remarks. “We share this look at 1941 to tell the stories of the Shoah. We read their names to remind the world that these were not just numbers. They were husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, sons and daughters – each with a name, a birth date and year of death,” Kaufman said. “We are the ones to observe their yartzeits since entire families were wiped out. We are the ones to remember them.”
The B’nai B’rith Atlanta Achim/Gate City Lodge also held an Unto reading over Zoom in the afternoon. An additional virtual community reading is taking place on Yom HaShoah in the greater Washington, D.C. area, the B’nai B’rith Chesapeake Bay Region.
Since 1989, B’nai B’rith has served as the North American sponsor of this program on behalf of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
B’nai B’rith Connect also commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day with the first-ever Yom HaShoah event on the Clubhouse app. Volunteers joined this unique Unto event to read the names of victims.
Joshua Sushan, B’nai B’rith Connect board member, organized the event along with Rebecca Rose, associate director of development & special projects at B’nai B’rith.
Participants of the Clubhouse program included Joannie Leeds, Grammy-award winning song writer; Ellie Cohanim, former deputy special envoy combatting anti-Semitism; Zachary Schaffer, executive director of the Council of Young Jewish Presidents; Peter Fox, journalist, blogger and activist; executive members of the Jewish Federations of North America National Young Leadership Cabinet; Avi Gordon, executive director of Alums for Campus Fairness; several prominent rabbis; members of Alpha Epsilon Pi’s International Board of Directors; business executives; academics and many more.
In Israel, B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) held, for the 20th consecutive year, a joint Yom HaShoah ceremony to honor Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust.
The event took place at B’nai B’rith Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza with limited in-person attendance and was streamed live on YouTube. It will also be available on B’nai B’rith’s website, YouTube and Facebook page.
During the ceremony, 13 Jewish rescuers were honored with the “Jewish Rescuers Citation.” The citation—a joint program of the B’nai B’rith World Center and Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust—has recognized more than 350 heroes since its inception in 2011.
Romanian Ambassador to Israel Radu Ioanid spoke at the ceremony on the importance of preserving the memory of the Holocaust.
“The horrors committed during the Holocaust are well documented and there is no doubt about the way in which millions of victims were killed during World War II. However, even today, 80 years since those tragic events, one can still see attempts to negate and distort the history of the Holocaust,” Ioanid said. “At the same time, it is important to appreciate the efforts made to acknowledge the past.”
Alan Schneider, director of the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem, spoke about the Martyr’s Forest observance during the virtual Unto ceremony and told the story of Shmuil Markowitz Pewzner, a past recipient of the Rescuers Citation.
In addition to B’nai B’rith’s Yom HaShoah events, Mariaschin took part in the dedication of a synagogue at the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center near Kyiv, Ukraine in a virtual ceremony to commemorate 80 years since the Babyn Yar massacre.
After the unveiling, Mariaschin and other leaders discussed the importance of the synagogue dedication, the Ukrainian government’s support for the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center and the dangers of resurgent anti-Semitism.
More victims are honored each year as Yad Vashem continues to collect more names in its data base.
B’nai B’rith International is grateful to Tessye and Kurt Simon, of blessed memory, for their support of B’nai B’rith Unto Every Person There Is A Name programming.
Every year, B’nai B’rith leads in Unto Every Person There Is A Name to provide the opportunity to remember the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
“We are in the twilight of life for Holocaust survivors and with each passing year the number of survivors shrinks,” Kaufman said as he closed the Unto name reading ceremony. “That leaves us with one burning question: Who will bear witness when the very last Jewish survivor is gone? That answer rests with you.”
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit bnaibrith.org.