Hundreds of people of many faiths took part in Reading of the Names ceremonies over the weekend, honoring thousands of Holocaust victims by remembering them one by one.
The Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club organized the 24-hour vigil for the 18th year, beginning with a Saturday night candlelighting ceremony and memorial service with the theme “Unto Every Person There Is a Name,” a classic Israeli poem about the Holocaust.
Throughout the night and all day Sunday, people ascended the Beth Torah bimah to read from voluminous lists of victims, their ages, where they lived and where they died.
“A huge number like 6 million is simply unfathomable,” said Laura Shwarts, publicity chair for the event. “But to focus on individuals, one at a time, makes it personal, and ensures they will never be forgotten. We are very proud and honored to do this each year.”
At a Sunday morning breakfast program, former Plano Mayor and State Senator Florence Shapiro spoke of her parents, who survived the Holocaust, and many other family members who did not. She was joined by Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins, who presented a special preview of the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, which will open in September.
To mark the vigil’s 18th year, the recitation of names was interspersed with stories of Holocaust heroes, including Jewish partisans who fought the Nazis and non-Jews who sheltered and saved their Jewish countrymen.
“Amidst all the tragedy, it’s also important to remember the good deeds that were done, and the hope that it gives us moving forward,” said Jeff Markowitz, event co-chair.