Crumbling brick walls reflect the deterioration of Jewish life as the Nazi party started their persecution, plaques feature names and locations of Holocaust extermination camps, and a complete timeline of the Holocaust is engraved on a polished granite Jewish star emerging from the ground to symbolize Judaism rising up to survive.
The newly constructed Holocaust Memorial Plaza at King David Memorial Chapel & Cemetery will serve as a monument of perseverance and a timely history lesson. It will be unveiled at The Board of Rabbis of Southern Nevada’s Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration on Sunday, April 24, 2022.
Services will begin in person and via livestream at 3:30 p.m. inside King David’s Chapel, 2697 E. Eldorado Ln., Las Vegas. A dedication will follow outdoors at the memorial.
“We study the Holocaust to learn not only about what happened to our people but to learn lessons,” says Rabbi Sanford Akselrad, Board of Rabbis of Southern Nevada Chair and Rabbi of Congregation Ner Tamid. “Through these lessons, we hope to prevent genocide from happening to any people. And each commemoration is an opportunity to reflect upon the meaning of the Holocaust to bring honor to millions of unfinished lives, and to bring each generation an opportunity to learn the lessons of the past.”
Yom HaShoah is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately 6 million Jews and 5 million others who perished in the Holocaust. Now the Jewish community of Las Vegas has a dedicated place to remember them.
“Holocaust survivors and their families do not always know the day or place of death of family members so Yom HaShoah is a day we can say Kaddish,” says Esther Toporek Finder, president of the Holocaust Survivors Group of Southern Nevada and Generations of the Shoah – Nevada. “Most of us do not know where our murdered loved ones’ remains are. For those who wish, this memorial can serve as a symbolic resting place.”
“This memorial will allow Holocaust survivors and their relatives to remember and honor their loved ones lost, and allow rabbis and educators and community members alike to be able to learn more about the Holocaust,” says Jay Poster, general manager of King David Memorial Chapel & Cemetery.
“I look at cemeteries as being a part of history. You celebrate people’s lives any time you walk in a cemetery. You see their names and their beautiful memorials and headstones, and these are ways to remember those we have lost. While we can’t place 6 million names on our memorial, we can symbolize the 6 million that were lost. And this memorial is a celebration of all their lives. That’s what cemeteries are supposed to be for.”
The names of local Holocaust survivors’ and descendants’ family members who perished in the Holocaust will be scrolled on a continuous loop along the front wall of the chapel during the service, and those Holocaust survivors and descendants in attendance will have opportunities to light candles in honor of those who died in the Holocaust.
During the hourlong service, Tali Nates, founder and executive director of The Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre, will be one of the featured speakers via pre-recorded video message. Nates is a historian who lectures internationally on Holocaust education, genocide prevention, reconciliation and human rights. She was born to a family of Holocaust survivors. Her father and uncle were saved by Oskar Schindler.
After the service, attendees will listen to live music from the major motion picture Schindler’s List as they proceed outdoors to the Holocaust Memorial Plaza for the 4:30 p.m. dedication ceremony.
King David broke ground on the Holocaust Memorial Plaza on November 19, 2021.
Local Holocaust survivors and descendants, rabbis, politicians and dignitaries are scheduled to attend this significant community event.
This article was written by Leslie T. Snadowsky.