Hosts First-Ever Clubhouse Yom HaShoah Name Reading, Featuring Young Leaders
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:
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.
B'nai B'rith Interntional and Alpha Epsilon Pi participate in "Unto Every Person There is a Name" and "We Walk to Remember" Yom Hashoah programming at Georgetown University on April 15. In the center photo, attendees pose around the statue of Polish Underground member and Georgetown history professor Jan Karski.
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” for 26 years. In 2015, we once again carried that mantle, along with a combination of other programming to make for an inspiring Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Communities across the continent came together on or before Yom Hashoah, the 27th day of the month of Nissan on the Jewish calendar. Programs started on April 12 and will run through April 28, reading 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 and uncovers additional 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 and enjoys the official auspices of the President of the State of Israel, the Hon. Reuven Rivlin. This year’s theme was “Seventy Years Since the End of WWII: The Anguish of Liberation and the Return to Life.” The program, including thematic materials is developed by an international committee and B’nai B’rith International is represented by the B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider, giving B’nai B’rith not only the honor of implementing the program, but having a hand in the planning stages as well.
The program has become an integral part of community observances across the country. These observances are generally held in public spaces such as shopping malls or downtown office plazas during the lunch hour, to be especially visible for the entire community. Often, people will stop to see what is happening and ask if they can read names too. Teachers bring students as part of their learning experience about the Holocaust.
“B’nai B’rith International is proud to have such strong Yom Hashoah programming. It’s important work to ensure we always remember, and for 26 years now, we’ve done an excellent job with ‘Unto Every Person There is a Name,’” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
In addition to community observances, for the seventh 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.
A particularly poignant iteration of “We Walk to Remember” was held on Vanderbilt University’s campus in Nashville, Tenn., where AEPi’s fraternity house was vandalized with swastikas spray-painted in the basement and elevator in March. Hundreds gathered not only to remember those lost in the Holocaust, but also to directly respond to the face of bigotry on campus.
“We came here together to prevent anything similar to this from happening again. And to educate everyone in Vanderbilt, the Nashville neighboring community, and the people that this reaches across the country and internationally that us as AEPi members, [we] as Vanderbilt students and Jews will not stand for things like this,” AEPi Chapter President Joshua Hyman said before the program commenced.
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.
Another example of the two programs coming together to create an atmosphere of solidarity and remembrance occurred on Georgetown University’s campus in Washington, D.C. Participants walked silently around campus, ending at the statue of Jan Karski. Karski was a Georgetown history professor and member of the Polish Underground during World War II who was among the first people to alert the Western world of Nazi atrocities against Jews.
“It was a really powerful moment with the walk ending in front of the Karski statue,” B’nai B’rith Assistant Director of the International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy Sienna Girgenti said. “To have everyone joining in reciting names, poems and prayers—it was a true embodiment of what ‘Unto Every Person There is a Name’ and ‘We Walk to Remember’ strive to create on campuses and communities around the country.”
B’nai B’rith provides programming materials and support with the generous sponsorship of Kurt and Tessye Simon, of blessed memory.
“It’s a big responsibility sponsoring such a meaningful program as ‘Unto Every Person There is a Name’ for an entire continent,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “It’s serious responsibility to remember those who were lost in the Holocaust. Between ‘Unto Every Person There is a Name’ and our yearly efforts honoring Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Shoah, B’nai B’rith diligently works to ensure those lost are not forgotten.”
On the morning of April 16, 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 about one thousand people in attendance, the program memorialized Rabbi Moshe Shimon Pessach (1869-1955), an outstanding rabbinic and communal figure who served for 63 years as rabbi, including later in life as chief rabbi of Greece. Pessach initiated and orchestrated the rescue of his community during the German occupation, efforts that led to the survival of 74 percent of the Volos Jews—an extraordinary achievement in a country where 85 percent of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust—and led a partisan unit against the Germans. The program saw its highest attendance in its 13-year history and was reported on in dozens of print, broadcast and digital media outlets in Hebrew, English, Greek and Spanish.