Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ohio Dedicates New Holocaust and Liberators Memorial

Features Moving Quote by Yad Vashem Chairman
From left to right: S. Isaac Mekel, Development Director of the American Society
for Yad Vashem, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, Yaron Sideman, Israel's
Consul General to the mid-Atlantic region and architect Daniel Libeskind 
A new Holocaust and Liberators Memorial was unveiled at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, by Governor John Kasich of Ohio on Monday, June 2, 2014 in a commemorative ceremony. The new memorial featuring words by Avner Shalev, Yad Vashem Chairman, was designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind who conceived the 1,029 square-foot memorial that now stands as a monument in Capitol Square commemorating the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust and other victims of the Nazis. The memorial also honors survivors as well as soldiers from Ohio who served in the American Armed Forces and who took part in freeing thousands from concentration camps during World War II.
A pathway leads to two 18-foot-high treated bronze monolithic forms which are positioned at a 45 degree angle to one another, forming a Star of David which offers a view to the sky. The pathway leading to the monument is lined with benches and a graduated wall of Columbus limestone. The top of the wall is edged with the words from the Talmud: "If you save one life, it is as if you saved the world…"  At the request of Libeskind, an inspirational quote by Avner Shalev is engraved on the stone:
"Every human being who chooses to remember this chapter of history and to infuse it with meaning is thereby choosing to struggle for the preservation of the bedrock moral values that alone make possible the existence of a well-ordered society. This is a commitment to uphold human rights, above all, freedom and the sanctity of life, and the opportunity for people to live side by side in harmony."
The memorial also recounts the rescue story from Auschwitz of two Holocaust survivors which is inscribed on the monument. Governor Kasich explained: "The goal of the memorial is to drive us all to contemplate the great evil perpetrated in the Holocaust against Jews and many others, and be ever vigilant against the hatred and intolerance that inevitably leads a society to death and division."
A letter sent by Avner Shalev was read aloud by Yaron Sideman, Israel's Consul General to the mid-Atlantic region, calling the survivors and liberators "inspiring role models" and commending Governor Kasich and the efforts of all those involved with the endeavor: "Your initiative and decision to construct a Holocaust Memorial at the Ohio Statehouse reflect a profound vision - a vision of universal human morality and of essential human decency."
The dedication event included a variety of speeches, musical interludes, a minute of silence, the ringing of the Ohio Bicentennial Bell and a candle lighting ceremony before the memorial was unveiled. Representing Yad Vashem at the ceremony was S. Isaac Mekel, Development Director of the American Society for Yad Vashem.