MARBLEHEAD — Rabbi David Meyer of Temple Emanu-El, government officials, members from police and fire, and members of the community all came together to Abbot Hall Jan. 27 at noon for a Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony, followed at 6 p.m. with a service at Temple Emanu-El.
Select Board Chair Moses Grader spoke to the congregation.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released new data on Jan. 12 that showed antisemitism has increased.
“Over three-quarters of Americans (85 percent) believe at least one anti-Jewish trope, as opposed to 61 percent found in 2019. Twenty percent of Americans believe six or more tropes, which is significantly more than the 11 percent that ADL found in 2019 and is the highest level measured in decades,” the ADL data report said.
In the light of this, Meyer said when government officials and community leaders support the Jewish community like they did Jan. 27, “it is a reminder that antisemitism can never be ignored or worse yet considered normative.”
The commemoration was the town’s first Holocaust Remembrance Day, Co-Chair of the Task Force Against Discrimination Helaine Hazlett said.
“It’s currently observed in numerous countries worldwide. It commemorates the murder of six million Jews and millions of minorities, including the disabled and gay men, among others by the Nazi regime. The date January 27 recognizes when the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated in 1945,” Hazlett said.
“Today we stand in remembrance. We remember the more than 13 million souls, destroying the nightmare of the . . .Nazi Holocaust,” Meyer said at the Abbot Hall ceremony. “Today, Jews and people of faith all around the world remember how hatred and bigotry come together with modern technology to create a machinery of death.”
At the ceremony, Police Chief Dennis King shared a reading from Elie Wiesel, a writer and Holocaust survivor.
Two students from Marblehead High School, Celia Sliney and Helina Tadesse, who are the student representatives on the Task Forces Against Discrimination, recited a poem to the crowd.
“We’re here today to read a poem by Nelly Sachs who fled from Auschwitz to Sweden in 1940,” Sliney said. “We, the rescued, From whose hollow bones Death had begun to whittle his flutes…” Sliney read from Sachs’ “Chorus of the Rescued.”
Grader then read the proclamation that declared Jan. 27 to be Holocaust Remembrance Day in Marblehead back in October.
“Now therefore, we the Marblehead Board of Selectmen do hereby proclaim January 27, 2023 as international Holocaust Remembrance Day. And further, may it be resolved that the town of Marblehead hereby recognizes January as Holocaust education month,” Grader read.
State Rep. Jenny Armini (D-Marblehead) and State Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) led the lighting of the 13 ceremonial candles.
“Scripture teaches the human spirit is the light of God. As we look at these lights, we try to imagine 13 million candles, each one would signify a unique and precious soul who struggled and had hoped, who was part of a family, an orphan, a widow or widower,” Crighton said.
“They worked, studied, took walks, the ordinary things in life. They celebrated births, weddings, mourned at funerals, all were part of the family of humankind. Each one was a separate individual. Each one suffered. Each one was murdered. In their memories we light these candles and pray that their souls be at rest and peace,” Armini said.
In an interview after the ceremony, Meyer said it was “important and meaningful” that the Town of Marblehead recognized Jan. 27 as Holocaust Remembrance day.
In response to the government officials that came out for the ceremony, he said, “it’s a wonderful show of leadership and of commitment and I’m very grateful that people were able to put this into their calendars and make an effort to join us.”