Holocaust memorial service to be held on Sept. 12

By Reporter staff

The Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton will hold a memorial service at the Holocaust Memorial Monument in the Temple Israel Cemetery on Conklin Avenue in Conklin on Sunday, September 12, at 10:30 am. The service, which is being organized by Randy Friedman, will be led by area rabbis. Those attending are asked to wear masks due to the increase in the number of COVID cases in Broome County. The monument was one of the first memorial stones in the United States to acknowledge the Holocaust. 

“We had to make a very difficult decision last year and did not hold the service due to the pandemic,” said Shelley Hubal, executive director of the Federation. “Focusing on the health of community members was our first concern. We hope that this year’s ceremony will take place as planned.”

The stone was the project of the Get Together Club, which was a social and philanthropic group formed in 1948 by 13 German-speaking Jewish women. The women were the wives of cattle dealers who had resettled in the Southern Tier after fleeing Nazism. The decision to raise a memorial stone occurred after a member’s husband wished he had a place to say Kaddish for his parents, who, since they had died in the Holocaust, had no grave he could visit. The club raised the necessary funds for the stone. The names of more than 250 individuals who died in the Holocaust and had no grave were placed in a copper box, which was buried at the foot of the monument. The inscription on the stone says, “Victims of Racial Persecution who lost Their Lives in Europe During the Years 1933-1945. They Will Never Be Forgotten.” 

The first ceremony took place on Sunday, November 9, 1952, and continued for 20 years. Then after Professor Rhonda Levine spoke about the Get Together Club at the Federation’s Super Sunday in 2015, it was decided to resume the ceremony, holding it between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur each year. The ceremony was held for several years before its cancellation last year due to the pandemic.

“I learned from Arieh Ullmann, and through Rhonda’s work, that the Holocaust memorial in Conklin is one of the first memorials created in the country,” said Friedman, who is the chairman of the Department of Judaic Studies and the director of the Center for Israel Studies at Binghamton University. “By gathering together, we remember those who were lost in the Shoah, and honor those who developed, created and sustained this important community memorial.”

“Join us for what is always a moving event,” said Hubal. “It’s important that we never forget the lives lost in the Holocaust.”