BANGOR, Maine — “They took everything from me.”
Those were the words Ehud Loeb wrote to describe his life after his parents were killed in the Holocaust. The Nazis took Loeb’s parents, childhood and his hope when he was separated from his parents in October 1940.
Jews in Bangor and all over the world remembered the victims and events of the Holocaust Sunday during the annual Yom Hashoah ceremony.
Yom, which means day in Hebrew, and Hashoah, which means calamity or catastrophe and is used as the Hebrew word for Holocaust, was mandated by the Israeli Knesset, the country’s parliament, in 1951. It is affixed to the Hebrew date Nissan 27.
Rabbi Steven Schwartzman of Congregation Beth Israel said this year the memorial was in honor of 1½ million babies who perished in the Holocaust. Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, declared the issue of children in the Holocaust to be the central theme of this year’s Yom Hashoah.
“[The children] were murdered because they were Jews,” Schwartzman told the more than 100 people in attendance Sunday at Beth Israel.
Schwartzman read from remembrances of Loeb, who survived the Holocaust in hiding in France.
“They took everything from me,” Schwartzman said, reading from “A Borrowed Shadow,” an account of Loeb’s life during and after the Holocaust. “Mother. Father. Aunt Erda. Grandmother Sophie. Grandmother died three weeks after we arrived at the camp.”
Loeb’s parents were killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“May the memory of all the children who suffered at the hands of their tormentors be a blessing,” Schwartzman said after finishing Loeb’s memoir. “May the memory of all who inflict suffering on children be wiped out from the face of the earth … and may we always have the courage to remember to stand up against evil.”
Raechel Segal, a 14-year-old congregant of Bangor’s Reform-affiliated Congregation Beth El, read aloud the poem “Holocaust” by Barbara Sonek. Segal said she read the poem in honor of her bat mitzvah “twin,” a girl who was killed in the Holocaust before she could have her own bat mitzvah ceremony.
Alex Wilde, a Brewer resident who attends Beth Israel, lit a memorial candle in honor of his family, including his father, who was taken Nov. 9-10, 1938, during Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass, when the Nazis had organized anti-Jewish riots.
University of Maine professor Anatole Wieck, who teaches violin, performed “Nigun” by Ernest Bloch and “Hebrew Melody” by Joseph Achron.
The choir from Rockland-based Adas Yoshuron Synagogue, with director Dana Goldsmith, performed “Es Brennt,” a composition in Yiddish whose title means “It’s Burning.” The choir also performed “Ani Ma’amin,” a rendition of Maimonides’ 13 principles of faith, and “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem.
Guest speakers were the Rev. Bob Carlson and Rabbi Darah Lerner of Beth El.
“By including [a variety of groups], we can speak to the grander message that most memorials speak to, which is this notion of ‘Never Again,’” Lerner said after the memorial. “And ‘Never Again’ is done not simply by talking to ourselves … but it can only not happen again if everyone gets the message.”