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April 17, 2012 > Interfaith service remembers

Interfaith service remembers

By Julie Grabowski

During World War II, approximately six million European Jews were persecuted and murdered in a state-sanctioned extermination by Nazi Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. Jews were deemed to be racially inferior to Germans and a threat to their community. Millions of other "inferiors" and those whose behavior was outside of social norms were also targeted and killed in one of the worst atrocities in human history.

The Holocaust is an unimaginable horror to those of us living in the freedoms and comfort of modern American life. But we should never forget those who suffered and the vicious and devastating consequences of hate and prejudice. Sponsored for the 29th year by the Tri-City Interfaith Council, the Yom Hashoah Holocaust Memorial Interfaith Service held at Temple Beth Torah in Fremont remembers victims and unites the community.

"The intent is to reach out to the entire faith community to commemorate this terrible tragedy," says Rabbi Avi Schulman.

The Tri-City Interfaith Council is comprised of members and leaders from various faiths in Fremont, Newark, and Union City who work together to promote respect, understanding, cooperation, and appreciation for the various religious groups throughout the community. Their Vision Statement reads: "We are a Group of People from various religious traditions who envision an inclusive society in which people of all traditions respect and appreciate one another. We are committed to a path which ennobles and teaches us to love and support one another more fully."

Leaders from other faiths will participate in and shape the Sunday service, with 10 to 15 faith communities represented. The evening will include prayers, songs, the lighting of candles, readings related to the holocaust experience, and moments of silence, which Rabbi Schulman calls "highly significant for deepening the religious significance."

Instead of inviting a Holocaust survivor to speak as has been done in previous years, this year's service welcomes Berkeley-based traveling storyteller Joel ben Izzy. Izzy has traveled the world collecting and telling stories which have been recorded on several award-winning CDs, and shared his own personal tale of difficulty in his first book, "The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness." Izzy will deliver survivor's tales and those from other cultures in "Treasuring the Stories We've Inherited," a challenge to consider how we interpret stories and make them an impactful part of our own lives.

There will also be a free-will offering for "Facing History and Ourselves," an organization that helps communities and classrooms across the world connect the past to moral choices today.

There are many who attend every year, and Rabbi Schulman says they are pleased to have those who choose to come for the first time and find themselves touched and moved by the experience.

While an undeniably somber service, Rabbi Schulman says there is also a sense of gratitude for those who risked their own lives to preserve Jews, and the evening ends with a spirit of hope. "We recognize atrocities of the past and wish to strengthen our own ties together and prevent future acts of horror taking place."

Yom Hashoah Holocaust Memorial Interfaith Service
Sunday, Apr 22
7:30 p.m.
Temple Beth Torah
42000 Paseo Padre Pkwy., Fremont
(510) 656-7142
www.bethtorah-fremont.org

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