Honor from the greater community
By Deb Silverthorn
Southern Methodist University (SMU) was founded in 1911 by what is now known as the United Methodist Church, now long nonsectarian in its teaching and commitment to academic freedom and open inquiry. This month SMU will bring the lessons and honor due for Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. The March of Remembrance (MOR) will be held at 2 p.m. (registration at 1 p.m.) on Sunday, April 16, and the SMU Yom HaShoah memorial service is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday April 18. Both events originate at SMU’s Hughes-Trigg Student Center and are open to the public.
“It means the world to the Jews at SMU, to all Jews, the [alliance] we have in our partners in these very important events. At a time of rising antisemitism and so much hate, it is more important and meaningful than ever,” said Rabbi Heidi Coretz, SMU chaplain and Hillel director.
Each of the commemorative events is partnered with Hillel at SMU, the SMU Office of the Chaplain and Religious Life, SMU Jewish Studies, the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. Perkins School of Theology, SMU AEPi and Mishelanu on the campus of Southern Methodist University.
The March of Remembrance was to debut locally in 2020 but, because of the pandemic, was first held in 2022.
“This March was created by Germans who wanted to connect to the Jews, for whom the deeds of their fathers were not of their hearts. We’re honored to march at SMU, with Rabbi Coretz, with our communities and our communities as one,” said Dr. Victoria Sarvadi, a minister, executive director of MOR’s Dallas chapter and, with her husband Paul, co-founder of the Nathaniel Foundation.
The March of Remembrance is the U.S. iteration of The March of Life, an international Christian organization founded in Tübingen, Germany, by Charlotte and Jobst Bittner. With penitent descendants of Wehrmacht soldiers, members of the SS and the German police force, they organized memorial and reconciliation marches at historic sites of the Holocaust all over Europe.
With organizational partners in the common goal to remember the Holocaust, stand against antisemitism and hate and reconcile with the Jewish community during the month of Yom HaShoah, tens of thousands of people worldwide join their voices as one. In honoring, educating, remembering and engaging, the March has been held in 20 nations, including Israel, and in more than 400 cities.
The March of Remembrance Dallas chapter, in partnering with the many entities at SMU, will host a candlelighting event with Holocaust survivors Tova Feldman, of Fort Worth, and Rosian Zermer, of Dallas. The survivors will share their testimonies and an honor march around SMU’s campus. At the end of the march, participants will lay stones with the names and ages of young individuals who did not survive.
“We are a ministry of many denominations who follow the first century matrix of faith and who are complete Zionists. We respect our relationship with our Jewish friends and appreciate our commonalities. This march is part of our goal to educate young people away from antisemitism, away from a narrative that is anti-Bible, anti-God and filled with hate,” said Sarvadi.
Coretz will address those present along with March of Life delegate Claudia Kiesinger and Elad Shoshan, consul of Israel to the Southwest United States. Vignettes of the Kingwood, Texas, Opera Leggera “Janusz and Stefa” will be seen. The story follows the final months of the Warsaw Ghetto’s Orphans Home, led by Dr. Janus Korczak, a Jewish-Polish pediatrician and advocate for children’s rights, and his mission-driven partner Stefania Wilczyńska. SMU student recipients of 12 Nathaniel Foundation/March of Remembrance Scholarships, of between $1,000 and $5,000, which engage students to be upstanders and positive exemplars to their generation, will be recognized.
The April 18 event, at which Coretz will lead a reading and the Kaddish prayer and also light memorial candles, is in addition co-sponsored by SMU’s Human Rights Program. Amy Fraler-Delgado, a master’s candidate in religious education at Loyola New Orleans and of Holocaust and genocide studies at Gratz College, will speak on “Lights in the Darkness: The Character and Formation of Holocaust Rescuers.”
“There were people who really did love their neighbor as themselves,” said Fraler-Delgado, a Catholic woman and graduate of Ursuline Academy, who worked at the Aaron Family JCC’s Camp Simcha as a teen. Before raising her three children, she was a nurse. She is now in her second career of religious education, and her goal is to create an evidence-based approach to religious education by integrating the character and formation of Holocaust rescuers.
“I’ve spoken to adults, to high school students and to fifth-grade students and there is absolute engagement, curiosity and respect. People are so moved,” said Fraler-Delgado, who is also a fellow in the Witness Institute, created by Rabbi Dr. Ariel Burger and Elisha Wiesel.
Both events, says Coretz, have been coordinated and organized with sponsors and participants with the greatest of respect and honor.
“There’ve been many thus far, and there will be on the days of these solemn and incredibly momentous occasions, volunteers working together with nothing less than a true love and kavod (respect) for the Jewish people,” she said. “These are endeavors of honor, shared by the most honorable friends of our community.”
SMU to hold Holocaust Remembrance events
Sunday, April 16
2 p.m. March of Remembrance
(registration opens at 1 p.m.)
Tuesday, April 18
7 p.m. Yom HaShoah Memorial Service
Both events originate at SMU’s Hughes-Trigg Student Center and are open to the public.