April 11-18 marks Holocaust Remembrance Week

Published 1:02 pm Thursday, April 8, 2010

On April 11-18, people around the world will mark Holocaust Remembrance Week, a time to memorialize the tremendous loss of six million Jewish lives during the Holocaust of World War II.

Demopolis has a longstanding Jewish heritage that thrived into the 1990s, but is all but gone today. The B’nai Jeshrun synagogue on Main Avenue is now used for the Food Pantry, which provides food to needy people in this area. (“B’nai Jeshrun” translates to “children of Israel.”) Bert Rosenbush is the sole remaining Jewish person in Demopolis.

“We gave our building to the city, and it’s going to be a museum,” he said of the Rosenbush building on Walnut Avenue. “We’re going to have some of the artifacts that came out of the temple in the museum. The temple was given to the Episcopal Church, and a plaque outside of it tells of the history of the Jewish people in Demopolis.”

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The Marengo County History and Archives Museum plans to have several artifacts about the peoples who helped it flourish and grow, including Native Americans, the French colonists, those of African descent and the Jewish community. The museum foundation is seeking grant monies to help it proceed.

Last October, Demopolis High School took the Holocaust to heart, and the drama team helped to raise awareness prior to its performance of “The Diary of Anne Frank” in November.

Those students also came to the B’nai Jeshrun Jewish cemetery in Demopolis to learn more about the town’s heritage. The group also collected pennies as its tribute of remembrance.

“People seem to think that pennies are disposable,” DHS drama teacher Jody White said in October. “One girl even told me that she throws hers away. We felt like that was a good symbol to represent the way that the Nazis felt about the Jews.

“It’s brought some awareness. Our goal is to get 60,000 pennies, one penny for every prisoner who was in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Lohheide, Germany.”

Rosenbush is a charter member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., which is sponsoring a number of events throughout the week.

Holocaust Remembrance Week is celebrated in April to commemorate the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, when Jewish resistance groups — finding that they would be sent to their deaths instead of to labor camps as they first believed — rose up against the Nazis in occupied Warsaw, Poland. The high point of the resistance assault began on April 19 of that year. Nazi soldiers eventually quashed the uprising.

A number of events and tributes will be held in Washington, D.C. and around the world. While this is the fifth year for Holocaust Remembrance Week, it marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps and the end of World War II.

For more information about the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, go to the Web site www.ushmm.org.