Holocaust Remembrance Vigil Set for City Hall Steps on Saturday Night, Sunday

Published : Thursday, January 24, 2019 | 7:42 PM

Contemporary psychology may suggest that forgetting bad memories is healthy, but for Pasadena, the opposite holds when it comes to the Holocaust.

The Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys (JFGSGPV), together with the City of Pasadena and community synagogues, will do their part to ensure our collective memory of the infamous chapter remains vivid with “Every Person Has a Name,” Jan. 26 and Jan. 27 at City Hall.

Specifically, during a continuous, 25-hour vigil, starting Saturday night and finishing the next day, members of the Pasadena community will recite the names of 15,000 people who perished in the genocide unleashed by the Nazi regime in Germany against European Jews and others during World War II.

“We’ve invited our community’s survivors and a number will be attending,” explained Jason Moss, executive director, JFGSGPV. “It will be heartwarming that they have an opportunity in such a public forum to read the names of their family members killed during the Holocaust.”

Time is passing and so, said Moss, is the memory of the Holocaust. “Every day, people that have firsthand experience of what it was like are dying and with them their stories and memories,” he said.

Thankfully, Moss noted, organizations such as the Shoah Foundation, Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Yad Vashem are working to combat the forgetfulness.

Yad Vashem, located in Israel, provided the 15,000 names to be read; pulled from a database of 5.3 million victims’ names.

“Recent studies show that younger generations are not learning about or even aware the Holocaust took place, said Moss. “It was only 74 years ago. An event like this allows us to remember and recognize the value of what happened in the past and how we need to learn from the examples of hatred.”

Moss observed that if it takes a day to read 15,000 names, it would take roughly 400 days to recite those of all the known victims.

The event will be attended by Mayor Terry Tornek, who is Jewish. He told Pasadena Now in a Jan. 24 interview, “I am a student of history and think it’s important for us to remember these events, to be conscious of what they mean, particularly for younger people who don’t have an obvious connection or personal memory of it.”

Rabbi Zushi Rivkin, founder of the Pasadena Jewish Academy, said that, while not an organizer of the event, members of his organization will participate in the vigil.

“When it comes to the vigil, and every name we read, let’s figure out a way that we can get more in tune with our Judaism to show whatever bigots or haters there are out there in the world today, that Judaism is alive and well,” said Rivkin.

“Anti-Semitism is sadly on the rise in our country,” said State Sen. Anthony Portantino who will be on hand. “Let us never forget the lives lost in the Holocaust. A vigil at which names of lost loved ones are read will be an important one for our community as one united voice.”

A commemoration ceremony will start the vigil at 7 p.m. Other elected officials expected to be present include Rep. Judy Chu (D), L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, the Jewish Federation Jewish Youth Orchestra and Kol HaEmek.

The Jewish Federation still looking for volunteers to fill slots between 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Those interested can sign up at the group’s website at www.jewishsgpv.org or by calling (626)445-0810.