CHARLESTON, W.Va.–Charleston’s Jewish community gathered Wednesday night at Congregation B’Nai Israel for a Holocaust remembrance service.
The solemn ceremony included poetry and prayer to memorialize Holocaust victims. On Thursday, the 22nd annual ceremony called “Unto Every Person There Is a Name” will be held at Town Center Mall, where 350 names of people that died will be read.
Jackie Artz, one of the organizers, said they picked the names by reading off a list provided by the Holocaust Museum, and they read a different 350 names each year.
“The Holocaust Museum and some organizations in Israel and outside Israel have compiled a list of the people that were murdered,” Artz explained. “Because the Germans, unfortunately or fortunately, kept wonderful records.”
She explained that not only Jews but also Gypsies, homosexuals and others that the Nazis considered genetically unfit were victims as well. Marc Slotnick, a volunteer who helps organize Holocaust memorial events, said the memorial services serve as a reminder.
“Annually we want to remember the 6 million Jews who died under the Nazi regime in World War II,” he said. “It’s important that we never forget that in order to honor their memories and so that we prevent it from ever happening again.”
Brian O’Connell, a history teacher at Charleston’s George Washington High School and a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Fellow, said the memorial services are sad but also hopeful.
“There’s a degree of sadness that we have to attend an event like this,” O’Connell said. “There’s a degree of, I wouldn’t say happiness, but a degree of hope because the Jewish people survived, the victims survived. They’re flourishing in many parts of the world.”
The reading of the 350 names will take place in the Macy’s Court on the first level of Town Center Mall on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.