Temple, CANDLES reunite to observe Yom HaShoah with ‘Remember the Past – Transform the Present’

By Terry Fear

For the second consecutive year, CANDLES Holocaust Museum & Education Center and United Hebrew Congregation will partner to remember victims of the Holocaust with a Yom HaShoah program, featuring guest speaker Agnes Schwartz.

Agnes Schwartz

The event is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, April 15, in the sanctuary at United Hebrew Congregation and is made possible through the generous sponsorship of the Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation.

Theme of the program is Remember the Past – Transform the Present.

Ten-year-old Agnes, with parents Margit and Jeno Gruner, were Jewish Hungarians living in Budapest at the time of the Nazi invasion. After the Gruners were forced into a Jewish-designated or “yellow star” building, their Catholic housekeeper took Agnes into her household, where Agnes lived as the woman’s niece.

Persecution, survival and a new life in the United States

Raoul Wallenberg saved Jeno Gruner by hiding him in a safe house but Margit Gruner was deported and perished in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Agnes and Jeno emigrated to the United States in 1947. They settled in Illinois, where Agnes grew up and raised her own family and worked in a law office. She has since become active in the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center and is a member of the museum’s speaker’s bureau.

In her book, A Roll of the Dice: A Memoir of a Hungarian Survivor, Mrs. Schwartz shares her warm childhood memories, upset by the devastation of the Nazi occupation. Immigrating to America brought its own challenges. “She tells her story of survival and the war’s far-reaching effects on her life to audiences large and small. Her aim is to keep the Holocaust from becoming just another page in a history book,” according to the publisher’s description.

The Yom HaShoah observance will also feature a candle-lighting ceremony to honor the 11 million victims, both Jewish and non-Jewish, of the Holocaust. Lighting candles for the non-Jewish victims will be representatives from a sample of Wabash Valley congregations and organizations that actively pursue social justice.

Candle-lighting to honor victims of the Holocaust

Those organizations include:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will host a reception in the Vestry Room immediately following the program. This will be the second time the church has generously and deliciously provided refreshments following events at UHC. During the reception, guests will enjoy opportunities to speak with the social justice representatives.

UHC continues a tradition of social justice

Pardubice Memorial Scroll

UHC is honored to host the Yom HaShoah program in our beautiful and historic sanctuary. Pardubice Memorial Scroll 32379, the Czech Torah that served as silent witness to the Holocaust, resides in our sanctuary’s ark.

Rabbi Leo Baeck, a prominent German rabbi who survived the Theresienstadt camp, spoke from the bimah during the installation of his son-in-law Stanley Dreyfus as our rabbi. Rabbi Dreyfus, remembered by Union Temple of Brooklyn as “one of the luminaries of the American Reform Rabbinate”, served in Terre Haute from 1951-1953.

Please join the Jewish community as we honor victims of the Holocaust, hear inspiring words from a Survivor, and celebrate community acts of social justice. Remembering the past can inspire us to transform the present.

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