by George J Elbaum
Temple Israel is the second oldest congregation in the Boston area, and the largest Reform congregation in New England. Founded in 1854 in Boston, its long history follows the rise of the local Jewish community. The Temple Israel Archives serves as the repository for records, documents, publications, and images relating to the history and administration of Temple Adath Israel of Boston. These records document the congregational history and provide primary source material to assist the clergy, staff, and members of the synagogue.
Although Yom Hashoah falls on April 18 this year, the 18th falls during the April 2023 school spring break in Massachusetts so the Temple scheduled its commemoration ceremony another day, in this case for the 10th,, so students and their parents could attend it, and I was invited to participate in this ceremony and tell my story of surviving the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust. (I welcomed speaking on April 10 as it is a memorable date for me: it was the date of Yom Hashoah in 2010 when I gave my very first talk about my Holocaust childhood at the ceremony organized by MIT, my alma mater, at the Holocaust Memorial in downtown Boston.)
Today’s ceremony at Temple Israel was attended by approximately 90 synagogue members, guests and children, with people joining both online and onsite. The evening started with a memorial service led by the Temple’s clergy, then transitioned to my presentation followed by a Q&A.
My presentation was organized by Brigid Goggin, Director of Programs and Community Engagement, and Roberta (Bergstein) Axeloons, Director of Elementary Education, and my participation was arranged by Jeff Smith of Facing History and Ourselves.
Notes from students
Five weeks after my talk at Temple Israel I received in the mail an envelope containing a dozen brief notes handwritten on blank paper from students attending the event, some with small decorations such as the Star of David and signed with the student’s name and “7th grade, Temple Israel.” One note in particular truly impressed me with its power and that student’s sensitivity and awareness of what’s important, all encapsulated in the note’s first and last sentences:
“Thank you for being able to retell and share your story……. Thank you for never giving up, never collapsing in a dangerous situation and impossible time, but most of all, thank you for never forgetting.”
Temple Israel, Boston