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North Jersey Holocaust Memorial & Education Center

A plan to erect a Holocaust memorial in front of the Teaneck municipal building received a go-ahead from the town council Tuesday night. Get The Jewish Standard's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories FREE SIGN UP! The plan would pair the memorial with one commemorating the plight of enslaved Africans. The approval is a milestone in a three-year effort by the Teaneck Holocaust Memorial Committee. It paves the way for township officials to begin drafting the necessary legal documents. “I want to commend you for working together on this project,” Teaneck Mayor Lizette Parker told the two memorial committees. The council heard from the Holocaust memorial’s new architect, Alan Hantman. Mr. Hantman, a 25-year resident of Teaneck who now lives in Fort Lee, was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the chief architect of the U.S. Capitol. In his new design, he focused on how to integrate the proposed memorials with each other and with the municipal green’s existing World War II memorial — and, as requested by the council, leaving open the possibility of adding more memorials at some other time. Mr. Hantman’s design uses hedges to delineate each memorial, and to link them with each other. “Each of the areas get their mutual respect,” he said. “We have not interfered with any of the existing memorial trees.” While the Holocaust monument’s design has not yet been determined, Mr. Hantman envisions benches around it, with enough space to allow 20 or 25 people to sit. Behind the benches would be something he calls “reading rails,” which would provide information about the Holocaust, perhaps linking to online resources. “It would be great if we could have a whole syllabus in the schools that would teach both the issues of the enslaved African community and the Holocaust issues and whatever issues we might ultimately have on the municipal green,” he told the council meeting. The outer ring would be made of stones; donors could use those surfaces to memorialize names of family members who died in the Holocaust. This has been a constant element of plans presented by the memorial committee, headed by Steve Fox and Bruce Prince. After the presentation, the council voted to approve the spirit of the proposal and authorize the township’s legal counsel to begin drafting the ordinances that would be required to implement it. Those ordinances will have to be ratified by the council at a future meeting. There were five votes in favor of the proposal, and one abstention. The call to memorialize enslaved Africans had originated in response to earlier discussions of the Holocaust memorial. After council members advised the groups to work together, “We invited representatives from their groups to come and see our presentations,” Mr. Fox said. “They were thrilled.” While Mr. Hantman’s plan does not propose any details for that memorial, it gives them a complementary space and footprint in the municipal green. The Holocaust memorial committee has not yet begun raising money for its memorial. “People are not looking to give money until you have something concrete,” Mr. Fox said. After Tuesday night’s council meeting, the moment of concrete planning has gotten closer.
3/26/2018 7:46:00 PM
The entire Teaneck Township Council stands united in the goal of having a Holocaust Memorial built in our community. Every single member of the Teaneck Township Council has joined the consensus that Teaneck should be the site of a memorial to the victims of the Shoah, one that is at a central site and serves as a beacon of the universal message: Never Again. Not To Anyone! At its meeting on January 28, 2015, the Teaneck Township Council expressed its unanimous support for the development of such a memorial, with an overwhelming majority supporting the selection of a site on the Municipal Green. The council understands and accepts the critical importance of having a Holocaust Memorial in the township that honors the victims’ and survivors’ families. Just 70 years later, we can see that lessons of the Holocaust are being forgotten or have never been learned, as antisemitism spreads like wildfire across the globe. We feel that it is essential that a memorial be located in the heart of our township. After years of efforts to find an optimal site, we have begun developing a location for an appropriate monument on the Municipal Green. The Municipal Green may not be hallowed ground, but it is an area treated with tremendous and somber respect. It is the site of a memorial to Sara Duker—a victim of terrorism—and a memorial to those who served in the Armed Forces to protect our freedoms and also, to liberate the camps. Teaneck observes Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day with ceremonies on the Green, overseen by our Patriotic Observance Advisory Board, and it is where members of our government are sworn in. The expansive grounds, sheltered by many mature trees, provides an opportunity to have a contemplative experience with appropriate seriousness, far enough away from Cedar Lane and Teaneck Road to buffer noise. Remote locations, without frequent foot traffic and police patrols, cannot guarantee security. The Memorial will be in plain sight, protected by the buildings and foot traffic around it, and maintained by the township. It is located across the street from the Jewish Center of Teaneck, adjacent to Eugene Field School and the public library, as well as the police department, Holy Name Hospital and the convent. Because the Library is just a few hundred feet away, visitors can visit the memorial and the Library to see a permanent exhibit of Holocaust-related artifacts, to attend lectures by survivors and experts in the library auditorium, as well as participating in projects or borrowing books from the collection. The goal is for residents and visitors to internalize that message: Never Again. Not to Anyone! The Town Council members feel that the Green is a more appropriate site for a Holocaust Memorial than the park next door to the DPW, off of two very busy roads, in a flat field, exposed to the harshest elements, that is regularly invaded by Canadian geese and their waste products. Sheltered from the blazing sun and offering an indoor respite from the bitter cold, a monument at the Municipal Green would be usable year-round and would allow for the proper duration of time needed to appreciate the core message of the Township of Teaneck’s Holocaust Memorial. Mayor Lizette Parker Deputy Mayor Elie Y Katz Councilman Jason Castle Councilman Mohammed Hameeduddin Councilman Henry Pruitt Councilman Mark Schwartz Councilman Alan Sohn
3/26/2018 7:45:00 PM
The Jewish Community Council of Greater Teaneck will hold its annual Yom Hashoah observance on Wednesday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m., at Teaneck High School. Helga Marx Silbermann is this year’s keynote speaker. In 1938, 13-year-old Helga and her grandfather ran into their burning shul to rescue a Torah scroll. During the war, she was able to warn Jews destined for death, thus saving many lives. The musical presentation will feature pianist/vocalist Jonathan Rimberg and violinist Stephanie Kurtzman. They will be joined by the Yavneh Academy choirs, directed by Marsha Motzen, for a performance of the Hymn of the Partisans. A reception for survivors and their families will be held in the high school’s media room, beginning at 6 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and Yitzy Glicksman will perform Hebrew and Yiddish music. For information, go to teaneckyomhashoa.org or call Steve Fox at (201) 362-6776. To attend the reception for survivors and their families, call Dena Levie at (917) 334-0937. During May, the Teaneck Public Library will feature Holocaust-inspired artwork by past and present Teaneck High School and Yavneh Academy students. The artwork was exhibited at the Bergenfield Public Library during April.
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A division of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Teaneck, the Teaneck Holocaust Commemoration Committee was formed over 30 years ago to perpetuate the memories of the Holocaust and to assure that the precious memories of the over six million victims who perished will not be forgotten. In keeping with this mission, every year it has hosted a community-wide commemoration in the impressive Teaneck High School auditorium that attracts 1000 attendees from across Bergen County. Many of those in attendance are children and grandchildren and more recently great-grandchildren of survivors whose numbers are sadly dwindling with each passing year. The committee, which includes over 30 volunteers who work throughout the year to orchestrate this event, is chaired by Steve Fox, Heidi Fuchs and Felicia Grossman, all of Teaneck. The chairs urge survivors and their families to contact them if they wish to serve as candlelighters in future commemorations. A moving and meaningful segment of the program features survivors, accompanied by children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, whose Holocaust experiences are shared with the audience as they light a memorial candle in memory of the six million. The Yavneh Academy choir, under the direction of Marsha Motzen, will join Jonathan Rimberg and Stephanie Kurtzman for a musical presentation and the national anthem to open the program. The highlight of the yearly commemoration is the address by a survivor selected by the committee from a list of potential speakers. To date, the featured speakers have included individuals whose indomitable faith, will to live, industriousness and creativity have inspired the audience, young and old. Some have been brought in from other countries, including Israel and Canada. Others have created highly regarded names for themselves in business, education and the arts. The keynote speaker at this year’s commemoration, marking the 68th anniversary of the start of the Shoah, will be child survivor Mark Schonwetter. Mark was a child of 6 when his father was taken away by the Nazis. Little Mark was forced into manhood to help his family survive.Through the heroism of his courageous mother, Mark and his young sister fled the only home they had ever known. For three long and dangerous years, they escaped under barbed-wire fences and took refuge in woods, fields and farms. Of the 1,500 Jews who had populated their village, only 50 survived. After the war, the three remaining Schonwetters remained in Poland for 10 years. In 1957 they were able to emigrate to Israel. Unfortunately, Mark was unable to secure proper work in Israel, and so, with five dollars in his pocket, he moved to the US in 1961. Once here, he obtained menial work in a jewelry factory, supervised by a Yiddish-speaking co-worker. Slowly but adamantly, he learned English and rose through the ranks to become the factory manager. Within five years, he purchased another jewelry company called Lieberfarb, which he proceeded to grow into a successful wedding ring and bridal company that he owned and ran for over 40 years. Schonwetter shared, “I feel blessed to have had a lifetime having survived against all odds.” Inspired by her father’s life story and exemplary determination, daughter Ann Arnold has authored a biography of her father entitled, “Together: A Journey of Survival.” Together, father and daughter have made it their mission to spread the story of courage against impossible odds with schoolchildren and adults wherever possible. On the morning after speaking at the Community Commemoration, Schonwetter will address over 500 students of Teaneck High School in keeping with the yearly practice of sharing the featured speaker with the school. Also, in conjunction with the yearly commemoration, the committee arranges for an exhibit of Holocaust artwork by students of local private and public schools. This year, a photographic exhibit by noted photographer Debbie Teicholz Guedalia is being hosted at the Teaneck Public Library throughout April and the Bergenfield Public Library throughout May. The community is urged to participate in the commemoration and to bring the younger generations along so that the memories of the kedoshim will be perpetuated in an honorable program. Teaneck High School is located at 100 Elizabeth Avenue, Teaneck, NJ 07666. For more information, visit www.teaneckyomhashoa.org/calendar By Pearl Markovitz
3/26/2018 7:43:00 PM