2017-05-10 / Voice at the Shore

Shore community remembers and honors Holocaust victims

Voice shore editor

The family of Holocaust survivor Miriam Greenman led the “Passing of the Legacy” at the Yom HaShoah service at Beth El Synagogue on April 25. The family of Holocaust survivor Miriam Greenman led the “Passing of the Legacy” at the Yom HaShoah service at Beth El Synagogue on April 25. “Today, as every day, we mourn the six million cruelly murdered,” said Rabbi Aaron Krauss, during the invocation for this year’s Yom HaShoah commemoration “To Every Person there is a Name,” which took place at Beth El Synagogue on April 25.

“In a sense we are all survivors,” he noted. “If Hitler had won the war, for most of us it would be illegal to breathe.”

Krauss spoke to a full house at his home synagogue, where community members came out in force to honor local survivors and all others who suffered and perished during the Nazi Holocaust. It was an evening filled with somber and inspirational readings by local clergy, Stockton students, and others; the steadfast presence of aging World War II veterans; and the memories of Holocaust survivors and their families.

Holocaust survivor Miriam Greenman and her grandson, Mark Shinar, spoke at the Yom HaShoah remembrance service at Beth El Synagogue on April 25. Holocaust survivor Miriam Greenman and her grandson, Mark Shinar, spoke at the Yom HaShoah remembrance service at Beth El Synagogue on April 25. The evening began with the World War II Veterans and others of the Garr Greenstein- Friedenberg Jewish War Veterans Post bringing in the flags and leading all assembled in the Pledge of Allegiance. Post commander Paul Stern also shared the veterans’ perspective on the tragedy of the Shoah. “Upon liberation of the first concentration camp, the soldiers couldn’t believe what they saw,” he said.

Stern went on to read from a letter from General Eisenhower, who was called in to witness the horror these soldiers discovered. “’I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify firsthand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that the stories of the Nazi brutality were just propaganda,’” wrote Eisenhower.

Stockton University students and faculty played a significant role in the remembrance service. Students read the poem from which the remembrance service took its name, “Unto Every Person there is a Name,” and helped Holocaust survivors light candles— a total of six—to represent the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Two students who recently accompanied local Holocaust survivors on a Stockton Study Tour to the Netherlands and France also shared their reflections. “Walking through Amsterdam with Holocaust survivors who were hidden children… we noticed the brass bricks with the names of families who were displaced and murdered that lay beneath our feet. This is a form of remembrance… Remembrance allows us to make sure that the words ‘never again’ have true meaning,” said Michael Slaza, a Stockton undergraduate minoring in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

“What the families of Maud Dahme, Leo Ullman, and Dan Kochavi [local survivors who accompanied the Study Tour] must have suffered during their long years in hiding!” declared Karen Diemer, a graduate student who went on the tour. “As a mother, the thought of giving up my child and ultimately being at the mercy of Righteous Gentiles is almost too much to bear. How did they do it?”

Holocaust survivor Miriam Greenman, who was a young child and promising pianist in Poland when the Nazis took over, was the evening’s guest speaker. Greenman shared her story of surviving the Lida Ghetto in Poland, eventually escaping, and joining the Bielski Otriad (Jewish partisans) in the Naliboki Forest, where they survived until the end of the war.

Greenman recalled the day the Germans bombed her town and took over. Her mother was doing her nails and their maid was in the kitchen. The maid became frightened, ran outside, and was killed by a bomb. Then the Germans came to her home. “When the Germans took our piano out, I became hysterical,” she recalled.

Her neighbors were shocked when they saw her family leaving their beautiful home, wearing yellow stars, heading for the ghetto. “They had no idea we were Jewish,” said Greenman. Although the trials of living in the ghetto and later in hiding made her mother ill, Greenman supported her and stayed by her side. Greenman also recalled the difficulties of life in the forest. Wearing threadbare clothing, they were constantly cold, hungry, and plagued by mosquitos and other insects—while also living in fear of the Germans, who constantly pursued them.

After the war, Greenman met her husband George, and the two moved to McKee City, New Jersey. There, they led a difficult life as chicken farmers.

“The stench of the chickens was horrible,” recalled Greenman, who said she cried daily until they finally got into the hotel business and moved to Margate.

“In my nightmares, I still have to run away,” she said. “I still remember everyone who died, especially the children in the Lida Ghetto.”

Greenman said she now has ten great-grandchildren, which prompted a standing ovation from those assembled. The four generations of her family then came to the bima to lead all those assembled in “Passing of the Legacy,” in which each generation pledged to remember the Holocaust, those who died, and the suffering and strength of those who survived; to not allow the world to forget; to fight anti-Semitism; and to support Israel and the oneness of the Jewish people.

Greenman’s grandson, Mark Shinar, also spoke representing the subsequent generations of Holocaust survivors. To honor his grandmother and others who suffered the Holocaust, said Shinar, “we must be brave” and “never stand by when we see injustice.”

“I encourage all of us to care,” said Shinar. “There is no room for indifference here. I am so inspired by my grandmother and I hope you are as well.” 

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