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In its obituary for Haim Roet, the New York Times cited Roet’s creation of Yad Vashem’s Unto Every Person There is a Name program, of which B’nai B’rith International is the North American sponsor.

Read in the New York Times.

Rosina Roet. Adelheid Roet. Abraham Prince.

The names of those three Dutch Jews and others who died in the Holocaust could have easily been lost to history, their individual humanity snuffed out under the overwhelming weight of six million victims.

Haim Roet, a relative, ensured that this never happened.

Mr. Roet, who survived the Holocaust by hiding in a Dutch village, came up with the simple but powerful idea of memorializing Jewish victims of the Nazis by intoning their names.

“I tried to find a way to make the Holocaust more personal, so people can understand the calamity of six million souls murdered for being Jewish,” he said in a speech before the United Nations in 2016.

Mr. Roet died on May 22 at his home in Jerusalem, his daughter Vardit Lichtenstein said. He was 90.

Mr. Roet created Unto Every Person There is a Name, a memorial project that involves annually reading the names of Nazi victims in public around the world.

Mr. Roet (pronounced “root” in Dutch and “rote” in Hebrew) said he first recited the names of Holocaust victims in 1989, after the Dutch government decided to release two Nazi war criminals, Ferdinand Aus der Funten and Franz Fischer, from their life sentences. Mr. Aus der Funten and Mr. Fischer had been instrumental in the extermination of thousands of Dutch Jews.

Mr. Roet and a group of like-minded Israelis of Dutch descent organized a protest in front of the Dutch Embassy in Tel Aviv, at which they read some of the names of the 107,000 Dutch Jews who had died in death camps.

“It was a very moving event,” Mr. Roet said in Hebrew in a video posted on YouTube by Yad Vashem, the Israeli organization dedicated to documenting and commemorating the Holocaust. “People cried.”

“You see the names, and suddenly you see what’s behind it,” he continued. “You see the date, you see the children, how each of the victims had a life of their own, and I thought: We always talk about six million people. Maybe on Holocaust Memorial Day we should make it more personal by reading the names of every victim.”

Mr. Roet worked to spread the idea, and during the early 2000s, Yad Vashem and the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, made reading the names of victims an integral part of ceremonies on Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Similar ceremonies are conducted in hundreds of Jewish communities around the world, organized by Yad Vashem and Jewish organizations like B’nai B’rith International, the World Jewish Congress and the World Zionist Organization. Other memorial ceremonies, like the annual 9/11 commemoration, also include the recitation of victims’ names.


Read the full article in the New York Times.