CBT’s annual vigil gathers community to remember individual Holocaust victims
Congregation Beth Torah will host a 24-hour Holocaust vigil on April 15 and 16, as people from many faiths in North Texas gather to read the names of thousands of people murdered by the Nazis.
The Men’s Club of Congregation Beth Torah has organized the “Reading of the Names” event every year since 2002 to preserve the memories of the 11 million victims, 6 million of them Jews, who died in the Holocaust.
“Most of the victims were only known by a number and were never given a proper memorial,” said Ed Matisoff, co-chair of the project. “The Dallas community has the opportunity to keep their memories alive by reading and listening to the names. It’s both an obligation and an honor for us to do this.”
The event begins at 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 15, with a moving candlelighting ceremony in the synagogue sanctuary. The theme is “Unto Every Person There Is a Name,” the title of a classic Israeli poem about the Holocaust.
Volunteers of all ages and faiths read the names, ages and hometowns of individual victims, as well as the dates of their deaths. The details are supplied by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, museum and research institute in Jerusalem, as well as the United States Holocaust Museum. The readings pause periodically for the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the departed.
“The entire community is invited, and we’re very gratified that more people join us every year, both as readers and to listen to the names,” said Jeff Markowitz, co-chair of the project. “It’s hard to put into words just what an emotional, meaningful experience this is for everyone involved.
At 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 16, the readings will pause for breakfast and a lecture by Dr. Nils Roemer, director of the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. He will speak about events in the war in 1943 that led the Nazis to escalate the pace of the Holocaust.
The Reading of the Names program is unique in North Texas, and Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club has been honored by the national Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs for organizing it year after year.
Beth Torah is located at 720 W. Lookout Drive in Richardson, near the crossroads of Bush Turnpike and Central Expressway. For more information, or to request to participate in the program, call the synagogue at 972-234-1542.