By Caroline E nos Staff Writer
PEABODY— It was clear in the auditorium of Higgins Middle School Thursday night that while millions of people were killed in the Holocaust, none of them will ever truly be gone.
Their spirits are preserved in the souls of Holocaust survivors and liberators who were present for Thursday’s Yom Hashoah ceremony, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. They glowed in the candles lit in their honor at the event and, as Rabbi Richard Perlman noted, they live on wherever the Holocaust is remembered.
“This evening, we gather as a community in one voice to say ‘never again,’” Perlman said. “Hate failed then. It must not succeed now. As we hear the rumblings of hate even today, together, we must send a single voice, a loud and clear message: We can never tolerate hate of any kind.”
About 200 people tuned in for the event over a live stream while another 100 gathered at the school. Like so many other annual gatherings, this is the first time the ceremony has been held fully in person since the start of the pandemic.
“Yom Hashoah is a day where we hopefully can put aside our political differences or the calls of deniers and honor those who really and truly suffered and died or were negatively touched during the Shoah,” Perlman said.
He noted the Nazis targeted members of the LGBTQ+ and Roma communities, Black people, communists, those with disabilities, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other groups deemed subhuman or an enemy by the Nazis.
Their memories filled the Higgins auditorium Thursday night. But remembering them is not enough if doing so does not advance understanding and action, said Chris Mauriello, director of Salem State’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
“If we remember the Holocaust as a story of historic antisemitism leading inevitably to the Nazis’ mass murder of the Jews of Europe, we are in danger of missing the most important factor of all genocides,” Mauriello said.
“It was not hatred in itself that caused the Holocaust,” he continued. “It was the radical politicization and
See CEREMONY, Page A2
Salem State University’s Chris Mauriello welcomes the audience and offers remarks during Thursday’s remembrance.
Continued from Page A1 mobilization of hatred, in this case, antisemitism in the service of contemporary ideology that caused the Holocaust.”
This reality is outlined in Mark Ludwig’s book “Our Will to Live,” which tells the stories of musicians who were imprisoned at the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Terezin, a town located in the modernday borders of the Czech Republic.
Ludwig is a Holocaust professor and scholar and spoke about his book during the ceremony. He is a composer and musician like many of the victims included in his book, and also a Boston Symphony Orchestra member emeritus.
As Ludwig shared, many prisoners brought instruments with them to the camp instead of clothes or food. One man even cut up the pieces of his cello and tucked them into the lining of his coat, then glued the pieces back together once inside Theresienstadt, a dangerous act that could have gotten him killed.
Composer Viktor Ulman wrote chamber music and critiques while imprisoned at the camp, and inspired those who snuck in their instruments to play for other prisoners.
Ludwig played recordings of the music prisoners composed during their times in the camp. Some of the melodies were somber while others were upbeat. In every case, they were testaments to the truest versions of these musicians’ inner selves, he said.
One of the most difficult passages Ludwig wrote in the book, he said, was about one of the last compositions Ullman wrote in Terezin. Dated Aug. 22, 1944, Sonata No. 7, called “Eliyahu Hanavi,” was written for his young children.
Ullman would die in Auschwitz later that year. The Salem State Community Chorus performed this piece in his honor Thursday night.
“I would only like to emphasize that my musical work was fostered and not inhibited by Theresienstadt,” Ullman wrote in an essay at the camp. “We in no way sat around lamenting by the banks of the Babylon rivers, and our desire for culture was equal to our will to live.”
“In those last words, ‘our will to live,’ serve as the credo for Ullman and his fellow prisoners,” Ludwig said. “These gifted artists stepped out of the shadows of annihilation and remind us how precious and vital the arts are to our humanity.”
During the ceremony, awards were given to three people who have gone above and beyond in Holocaust education and honoring the memories of those lost in the genocide.
Deborah Coltin, president and executive director of the Lappin Foundation, received the Sonia Schreiber Weitz Community Upstander Award for her efforts to teach about the Holocaust around the North Shore. She was also a friend of the award’s namesake Schreiber Weitz, who was a Holocaust survivor and educator and the inspiration for Salem State’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
Marblehead High School senior Arielle Mogolesko received the Student Upstander Award that is also given in honor of Schreiber Weitz. She is the co-chair of the Lappin Foundation’s Teen Antisemitism Task Force and has worked to spread Holocaust education and knowledge of Jewish heritage in local communities.
Elisabeth Horowitz was awarded the Salem State’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Community Service Award. The Marblehead resident is the founder of North Shore Friends of Refugees, and has shown outstanding leadership in helping refugees resettle in the area.
She recognized some of the refugees she has worked with in her acceptance speech, including those who have escaped from the ongoing Rohingya genocide that is persecuting and killing the Muslim Rohingya people in Myanmar, as well as refugees who have escaped ISIS in the Middle East.
“I know that it’s really hard not to be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief,” Horowitz said. She then quoted the Jewish compilation of ethics teaching “Pirkei Avot.”
“We know that we’re not obliged to complete the work, but neither are we free to abandon it,” she recited.
Rabbi Richard Perlman and Salem State student Nina Torstensson light candles Thursday night..
Keynote speaker Mark Ludwig, scholar spoke of musicians who were victims of the Holocaust.