Before Shabbat, Reflections on Our Holocaust Remembrance Service

Rabbi/Cantor Meeka Simerly

This past Tuesday our Temple Beth Tikvah community came together to commemorate Yom Ha’Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was the first time since my arrival at TBT, that all three congregations (Shomrei Torah, Chabad, and Temple Beth Tikvah), along with Haley Chizever from the Wayne YMCA, came together for this commemoration. The actual date for Erev Yom Ha’shoah was Wednesday, May 1, when most services are held around the world. But to insure that our Wayne event would not conflict with other services in our area, we held it an evening earlier.

I think that for all of you who joined us it was a powerful evening, and your presence made it so. We had our children light six yellow memorial candles while reciting a prayer. The songs and prayers of our Cantors, Charles Romalis (TBT), and Stuart Skolnick (Shomrei Torah), pierced every heart in the sanctuary. Survivors read excerpts, and so did our teenagers. All came from different congregations, and we were all moved their blended voices.

The next day, I received this lovely message:


I want to thank you for inviting me to participate last night. You and your congregation always make me feel very welcome. I thought the program was excellent and I am happy to see ‘My three rabbis’ working together.



Christopher P. Vergano, Mayor, Township of Wayne

Our outstanding guest speaker, Mr. Erwin Ganz who shared his story, “Growing up in Nazi Germany, Before, During, and After Kristalnacht,” delivered an exceptional presentation. The next day he wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

A great Yom HaShoah Remembrance Evening. Thank you for inviting me to give my talk. Alice and Mitchel were a great help to Sandi and myself. Thank you again for everything.



Yes, I also want to thank my two partners, Mitchel Borger and Alice Osur, who helped with every aspect of our presentation: they drove Mr. Ganz and his family here, they took him back home, they took care of publicity, technical issues (the Hubbitzen helped with that too, thank you Dave!), and so much more.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all our other volunteers who ushered, read, and chanted. Thank you to our office staff and volunteers for preparing the sanctuary, and making sure that everything worked well! Thank you to Wayne’s police officers who always help us feel safe during these unstable times.

Todah Rabbah to all who attended and joined us. My hope is that, although this was our first all community Yom Ha’Shoah, it won’t be our last. Let us continue to come together as a community every year, to commemorate our past, for the sake of healthier and stronger future generations.

My message for this Shabbat: We Must Never Forget!

Shabbat shalom,
Your Loving Rabbi Meeka

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