Yom Hashoah. What do these two words mean? It is a commemoration of the Holocaust and the memory of the six million innocent men, women and children who lost their lives in the hands of the Nazis in World War II. If it wasn’t for the inhumanity of the Nazi’s and their sympathizers in Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia and other Eastern European countries, this heinous indecency to mankind would not have occurred. To honor and remember those whose lives were lost, Temple Or Elohim of Jericho invites a Holocaust survivor to speak each year to the congregation to share his or her story.
This year, the temple is fortunate to be hosting one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors, Werner Reich. It is particularly imperative to hear his voice now, given the recent rash of anti-Semitic acts occurring on Long Island and around the country. He will be speaking at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 24, and as usual, the service will be open to the public and refreshments served to all.
Reich survived not one but three different concentration camps, the last one the notorious Auschwitz. He has been a guest at schools and synagogues all over Long Island at schools, speaking about his experiences of hate and oppression and sharing his theme of anti-bullying with the acronym JUST: judge the situation, understand the problem, solve and take action instead of fighting.
Reich is a retired engineer from Smithtown and he lives with his wife of over 55 years. He was born in Berlin when the Nazis came into power in 1933. His family moved soon after to Yugoslavia in search of a better life, but both of his parents died early on at the hands of the Nazi regime. In 1943, Mr. Reich was arrested and placed in the first concentration camp. After seven weeks, he was sent to Thereienstadt and then a short while later he ended up in Auschwitz. On May 5, 1945, he was freed by American troops. He was 17-years-old and weighed only 64 pounds having endured hard labor and starvation in the camps.
To Reich it is critically important to continue to speak to young people, particularly as anti-Semitism and other forms of racism is raising its ugly head once again. Join Temple Or Elohim for a very informative evening with Werner Reich. For more information, call 516-433-9888 ext. 14 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Temple Or Elohim