The Edmond Sun
As Oklahoma and the nation remembers the Holocaust and the millions of Jews and others who were so brutally killed during that dark time in history, Edmond Memorial High School students will be completing a community service project they have taken part in since 2006.
Each year Memorial students have added the names of Jewish people who perished during that time in World War II as they complete a Kaddish card. The cards are an introduction to the yearly program, this year titled “Holocaust Children, Remember, Remember, Remember” sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City. Kaddish cards include the name of a person who was killed in the Holocaust and are mailed to area residents to remind them to say a prayer for those who died.
This year is different though in the fact that each of the cards bears the name of a child who was murdered. The names are listed alphabetically on the lists of papers and in many cases four or five names, all with the same father are listed, and all died in one of the towns taken over by Germans or on their way to one of the numerous concentration camps or after their arrival at a camp.
“Studying what happened in history has always held great intrigue for me,” said junior Braden Talbert. “My great-grandfather served with the German Army and I have always wondered what role he played during World War II.”
The students are in Janet Holsaeter’s AP German class and although Holocaust studies are not included in her curriculum, Holsaeter said the freshman English students study Eli Wiesel’s book, “Night,” which is the story of his survival during the Holocaust, and the social studies classes study the Holocaust.
“Our school did a production of ‘I Never Saw Another Butterfly,’” said senior Jamey Lausen. “To see a dramatization of what they had to go through was eye-opening and another perspective of what the Jewish population as a whole had to endure.”
More than 1.5 million of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust were children and in addition 5 million other people lost their lives.
“We choose a different theme every year,” said Edie Roodman, executive director of the Oklahoma City Jewish Federation. “Regardless of the theme the message is the same: ‘Never forget what happened and the importance of keeping the message alive.’ Each year we focus on a different theme, and this year the committee decided that it was time to bring to the community the number, 1.5 million, of children whose lives were taken too soon, during the Holocaust.”
The actual number of children who died during the Holocaust will never be accurately known, but estimates as high as 1.5 million include more than 1.2 million Jewish children. In addition, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of handicapped German, Polish French and Eastern European children also were murdered while under Nazi rule.
Although children were seldom the targets of Nazi violence because they were children, they were persecuted along with their entire families for racial, religious or political reasons.
Chances of survival were somewhat higher for older children, since they could potentially be assigned to forced labor in concentration camps and ghettos.
The 22nd Annual Holocaust Remembrance program is slated for 2 p.m. May 5 in the Bethany High School auditorium, 4500 N. Mueller Ave. in Bethany. The event is free and open to the public, with ample free parking at the school site.
The program, under the direction of Edmond residents Richard and Ruth Charnay, concludes with a traditional candle lighting ceremony to commemorate the more than 11 million people who were brutally murdered at the hands of the Nazis.
Melinda Parks is director of Holocaust Education and Community Resources, while Sharon Cohen chairs the committee. Roodman is annually a leader in the program.
This year’s Remembrance program Holocaust Education Committee includes Pamela Anderson, Anita Barlow, David Burton, Sue Emmer, Dr. Roy Isenberg, Michael Korenblit, Ann Dee Lee, Patricia Miller, Dr. Beth Resman-Targoff, Dr. Lawrence Rothblum and Dr. Mark Wolraich.
Support comes from the Gold Family Fund and the Jewish Foundation of Oklahoma City. For more information, visit www.jfedokc.org or call 848-3132.