Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Holocaust Memorial both melancholy and uplifting

Hank, Bob and Allan work on memorial at Etz Chaim
When God was handing out the handyman genes, I was still in the line for hair. Glance at my profile mug and you can see how well that worked out for me. I mention this now because I decided to take my bald noggin and defective handyman genes down to my neighborhood shul earlier this week to help pull together a new Holocaust Memorial Garden.

Fortunately, Hank N., master carpenter and handyman extraordinaire, is handling the heavy lifting for Etz Chaim’s Men’s Club, the group that has taken on the project of updating and retooling the memorial. It’s all part of an expansive renovation to expand and beautify the front entrance, foyer and office area of the synagogue.
The original memorial garden included some interesting and memorable items – cobblestones from the Warsaw Ghetto and railroad tracks that had once spilled into one of the death camps in Eastern Europe. These iconic bits will remain a featured part of the new garden, while most everything else has been demolished and whisked away.

Through the creative work of Allan S., Etz Chaim’s own personal landscape architect, I’m thinking the new garden is going to manage to be both melancholy and uplifting – recalling the past while honoring the Jews and others who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis.
The entire area has been scrubbed clean and warmed up with new landscaping. Concrete flooring has been replaced with pavers and the entire garden is set against a startling new fence, eerily echoing the harsh reality that defined the Holocaust. Nearby, an eternal light will keep watch, offering up a warm glow and reminder that the Six Million will never be forgotten.

With the help of Men’s Club officers and members – Barry, Johnny, Jeff and Joe – and the creative and speedy work of Allan and Hank, the new and updated Holocaust Memorial Garden will be finished by the High Holidays. It will be officially dedicated in November on the Anniversary of Kristallnacht.

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