Outline of the Ten Commandments Tablet -Beth Israel uses this symbol on the doors of the Holy Ark in the Sanctuary, and the opening words of the Ten Commandments are on the back wall of the Sanctuary. It is used here to tie the Memorial to the life of our congregation.
Memorial Wording -The words from Job were chosen to convey the despair and the anguish of the victims of the SHOAH, the Holocaust. The Hebrew word below the outline of the ten commandments reads HA-SHO-AH, the Holocaust. It is the word chosen by world Jewery to express the horror of the death of six-million of our brothers and sisters in Nazi Europe. Those words were edited from ” Gates of Repentance, ” the prayer book used for our High Holiday worship:
“O Lord of Life, our times are in Your hand. Our generation comes into the world to be blessed with days of peace and safety; another goes through the valley of the shadow enduring the cruelties of persecution and war. Heartbreaking have been the times that have fallen to our lot, o God. We have lived through years of tyranny and destruction; we are schooled in sorrow and acquainted with grief. We have seen the just defeated, the innocent driven from their homes, and the righteous suffer a martyrdom as merciless as any ages have witnessed. At this hour of memorial we recall with grief all Your children who have perished through the cruelty of the oppressor, victims of demonic hate: the aged and young, the learned and unlettered – all driven in multitudes along the road of pain and pitiless death. Their very presence on earth was begrudged them, for they brought Your covenant of mercy and justice to the recollection of Your enemies; they perished because towhead were a symbol of Your eternal law; their death has brought darkness to the human soul. They lie in nameless graves, in far-off forests and lonely fields. And the substance of many was scattered by the winds to the earth’s four corners. Yet they shall not be forgotten. We take them into our hearts and give them a place beside the cherished memories of own loved ones. They now are ours.”
Yellow Star of David -This universal symbol of Judaism was perverted by the Nazis. Jews were instructed to wear a yellow star on the outside of their clothing so that they could be instantly recognized, and shamed. Many Jews, however, and others of different communities, wore the star as a badge of pride, asserting that despite it all, they proudly clung to Israel’s covenant with God. In that sense it is raised to the apex of the Memorial.
Posts and Chain -These were added to the Memorial to represent the guard towers and the fences surrounding the extermination camps.
Gray Gravel -Spread at the base of the Memorial, the gravel, and the particular color chosen, are a sad reminder of the ashes of those Holocaust victims who were killed and cremated, their ashes left to blow to the corners of the earth.
Landscaping -The particular shrubs were chosen because they are ever-green and because these varieties will have some blooms almost all year. The Nazi horror murdered 1/3 of our people, but AM YISRAEL CHAI, the people, Israel, lives on!
The Memorial Stone -Thrusting upward, the stone stands proudly to indicate that Jews and Judaism have survived; will continue to do so; still reach for God, for human perfection and for God’s Kingdom here on earth. In our quest for God, we affirm that the victims of the Holocaust shall never be forgotten. In our quest for God, we affirm that it is our personal responsibility to cry out for all who suffer at human hands.