BANGOR — Jews in northern Maine will observe Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 1. The “day of utter desolation” honors Holocaust victims and survivors and the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising.
In services around the world many Jews will light yellow candles and pledge “Never again.” The Jewish Community Council of Bangor will bring together the city’s three synagogues — Beth Abraham, Beth Israel and Beth El — by sharing poetry and music written about the Holocaust at 8 p.m. at Beth El, 183 French St.
Children will read poetry from “… I Never Saw Another Butterfly …” a collection of verse by children of the Holocaust. Beth Israel’s cantor Deborah Marlowe, accompanied by Phillip Silver on piano, will perform songs inspired by “The Diary of Anne Frank” and written by Oskar Morawetz. Yiskor (In Memoriam) and Oedoren Partos will be presented.
At 7 p.m. Adas Yoshuron, 50 Willow St., Rockland, will hold a traditional remembrance service, with readings by the congregation and music by the synagogue choir.
In the vestry at Adas Yoshuron, two yellow cloth stars stamped with the word “Jude” hang framed as reminders of Adolph Hitler’s “final solution” to the “Jewish problem.” The late E. Alan Gordon brought them back from Czechoslovakia after World War II.
The photos that surround the stars are of a woman and her family Gordon befriended when his company liberated a prisoner of war camp. In the camp, she hid the fact that she was Jewish but revealed her religion to Gordon by reading to him from the Hebrew prayer book he carried in his pocket.
Gordon also brought home from Europe two heavy candlabras that bear Jewish stars and the kaiser’s eagle. They will be used on Yom Hoshoah, when three candles will be lit in each to represent the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Last September, Beth Israel Rabbi Ysrael Rod Brettler, and his mother, Eva, met child survivors in Prague. Eva was 7 when she and her mother were abducted by German soldiers one morning in 1942. They were taken from Budapest to Ravensbruck, a concentration camp for women and children 50 miles north of Berlin.
Eva’s mother died there and she was moved to Bergen-Belsen in the Prussia Hanover section of Germany — the first camp liberated by the Allies on April 15, 1945. Eva spent the next 18 months in a Red Cross relocation camp in Sweden before being reunited with her father. In 1956, when she was 20, Eva came to the United States where an aunt and uncle lived and today is a social worker in California.
Like many children of survivors, Rabbi Brettler’s family tree has missing branches, but he was luckier than some. While his maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother survived other families were wiped out. “When I visited my parents’ birthplaces last year, the only Jews there were in the cemeteries,” he said.