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Holocaust ‘Book of Names’ to be inaugurated at the UN underscores the individual identities of the 6 million



When Yad Vashem was created in 1953 on the slopes of Jerusalem’s Mount of Remembrance to commemorate the Holocaust, its founders understood that one of the central functions of the institution would be to document the names of the 6 million Jewish victims.

It was seen as a moral imperative: to demonstrate that behind the almost inconceivable number were real individuals whose lives were cut short by the Nazis.

Now, to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, Yad Vashem is inaugurating its Book of Names — a monumental installation containing the names of 4,800,000 victims of the Shoah — at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Among those participating in the Book of Names opening ceremony on Jan. 26 will be U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Gilad Erdan, and Yad Vashem’s chairman, Dani Dayan, a former consul general of Israel in New York.

“The Shoah was the murder of 6 million individual Jews. Each one who died deserves to be remembered as an individual, and not only as part of a nameless collective,” Dayan said.

The Book of Names will be on display at the United Nations for a month. Afterward it will be transferred to its permanent location at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, in Jerusalem, where it will be open to public viewing in time for Yom HaShoah, the Israeli and Jewish Holocaust remembrance day, in April.

The installation is an updated version of the Yad Vashem Book of Names that has been on permanent display at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland since 2017. The new version, which contains 500,000 additional names, stands 6.5 feet high and approximately 3.3 feet wide. Its total length is 26.5 feet. The massive volume lists the names of the victims in alphabetical order and, where the information is known, includes their birth dates, hometowns and places of death. The book has blank pages at the end symbolizing the approximately 1 million victims whose names are not yet recorded.

The names in the Book are sourced from Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names.

“We have been collecting the names of the individual Holocaust victims since 1954, mainly through Pages of Testimony,” said Alexander Avram, director of Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names and the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. The Pages of Testimony are one-page forms that survivors and remaining family and friends complete with the names and biographical information of the victims.

“Starting about 20 years ago, we have been able to go beyond these pages and look to thousands of other sources for names,” Avram continues. “These include lists of victims produced by federal archives or organizations in different countries, deportation lists compiled by researchers and museums, and names gathered by memorial sites and institutions. We have also sourced hundreds of thousands of names from our own collections.”

The special team that finds the names and archives them in Yad Vashem’s names database is challenged by the fact that the Nazis either tried to eliminate traces of their crimes against humanity by destroying records, or never registered Jews’ names in the first place — especially in Eastern Europe.

“Few ghettos had censuses or name registrations,” noted Avram. “Hungarian transport lists had numbers, but not names — and they were all taken to extermination sites. Similarly, there were only numerical reports of the Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen [the mobile paramilitary killing squads organized by the Nazis]. At Auschwitz, 900,000, men, women and children were sent straight to their deaths. Only the names of those sent to slave labor there were registered on cards, and the Nazis destroyed most of these records.”

The Book of Names is one component of Yad Vashem’s new strategic plan to improve and increase Holocaust remembrance in Israel and the world at a time when the number of survivors is dwindling and Holocaust denial and antisemitism are on the rise, Dayan said.

The names in the book are sourced from Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, which the institution has been collecting since 1954. (Courtesy of Yad Vashem)

In addition to the permanent installations at Auschwitz and Yad Vashem, there are plans for a third version of the book to be created as a traveling exhibition.

“Our mission will be much more challenging, but also much more important and vital,” Dayan said of the coming era when no survivors remain. “We have to find innovative ways to reflect on and educate about what happened. I believe that you cannot remain indifferent to such a huge display when you see it.”

Dayan said he first experienced the power of the installation when he traveled to Auschwitz to see its initial version and found the names of his father’s uncles who were murdered in Poland.

New Yorker Bronia Brandman, a child survivor of Auschwitz originally from Jaworzno, Poland, was similarly moved when she embarked on a “roots trip” with her grandson Sruli Klaristenfeld in April 2017. Brandman’s large immediate and extended families were almost entirely wiped out by the Nazis.

Klaristenfeld navigated through the massive Book of Names at Auschwitz-Birkenau and found the names of his grandmother’s parents and other relatives. “It was a physical and permanent manifestation of their memory,” Klaristenfeld said.

Brandman said the impact of the monumental installation cannot be underestimated.

“People are indifferent. Many have no concept of the Holocaust ever happening and how it could be that 6 million innocent people were murdered in cold blood, including 1.5 million children,” she said. “The importance of the Book of Names is that the victims are immortalized for the future, and the past is never forgotten.”

Dayan said he looks forward to the Book of Names’ arrival at Yad Vashem after its display at the United Nations.

“Yad Vashem is the natural permanent home for the Book of Names,” Dayan said. “The public will be able to come and browse and find relatives, people with the same name as theirs or from the same locations as their families — or even to just pay respect to the victims.”

Avram said he expects the pages of the new book to be as worn from touch by visitors seeking the names of their family members as are the pages of the Book of Names exhibited at Auschwitz.

“Many families need a tangible, tactile way to reunite with the memory of the victims,” he said. “It’s the closest we can get to providing a gravestone.”

Meanwhile, the work of recovering the unknown victims’ names will continue apace, as it has for the last seven decades.

“It’s a debt we have toward the victims,” Dayan said. “We cannot let them be consigned to the lost pages of history. That is our promise to them — and to future generations.”

The post Holocaust ‘Book of Names’ to be inaugurated at the UN underscores the individual identities of the 6 million appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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