#8216;Never Again#8217;

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2008

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A card table, some folding chairs, a canopy and a few sheets of paper. These elements look too simplistic to be the basis for a ceremony to be held in a house of worship.

But it’s those sheets of paper — rather what’s typed on them — that bring participants back year after year as they read for hours the names of those murdered in the Nazi death camps.

They participate in the enduring message of the annual Yom Hashoah service: Never again.

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Never again may another Holocaust happen.

Joining synagogues across the world the congregants of B’nai Sholom in Huntington annually participate in the Holocaust Remembrance Day. Officially, remembrance day this year is May 1. However, it is a tradition for the Huntington congregation to mark the day on a Sunday and to invite the community to join them.

For hours on end, starting at 9 in the morning and until sundown, participants read the endless lists of names of those who perished during the Holocaust. Their names, ages, their home towns and the camps where they died.

“Every congregation gets a different grouping of names so that all 6 million will be recited,” Gail Feinberg, vice president of B’nai Sholom, said.

Usually, participants read for about 10 minutes, often stumbling over the strange sounds of unfamiliar towns and family names.

And the names are not just the Jews who perished. All those who did not fit the Aryan ideal and died in the camps are remembered.

“When you get to the names you recognize like Anne Frank and her family, that is awesome. And some of the towns I know my family is from,” Feinberg said. “And the

names and ages. Whether it be 65 years old to several months old, it is incredibly depressing. More than that it is just gut wrenching.”

The official name for remembrance day is Yom Hashoah Ve Hagevurah or Devastation and Heroism Day. But most refer to it as Yom Hashoah and was created as an official holiday in 1951 by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

B’nai Sholom invites members of other denominations and organizations in the Tri-State to participate. Feinberg, who has read names for the past 20 years, sees this as another way to bring communities together.

“We have several churches that come by on a regular basis,” she said.

Those wanting to read names may reserve a time before that Sunday, but may also drop by at the ceremony that is always held outdoors on the side yard of the synagogue.

“It is always outside so the community can see it happening,” Feinberg said. “It’s important to see it in your face.”

For those who question an annual ritual to mark an event that happened 60-plus years ago, Feinberg has a succinct answer.

“There have been an equal number of people who have wanted to deny this ever happened. If we don’t continue to remember the day, then we never are going to prevent this from happening again,” she said. “Learn from the lessons and not let it happen again.”

For those wanting to sign up for a time period in which to read names, they may contact Herman Glaser, coordinator of the event, at (304) 525-9425. The event is held at the synagogue at 949 10th Ave., Huntington.