ATLANTIC CITY — When the organizers of the proposed Atlantic City Holocaust memorial first got the word out that they were accepting designs, memorial organization member Kaleem Shabazz said: “If we could get 300 submissions, we would have been ecstatic.”
What they did get was 715 complete submissions from 55 countries, including 476 from the U.S. alone.
“This is a ringing affirmation of the significance and scope of this noble enterprise,” said Shabazz, of Masjid Muhammad in Atlantic City, at a press conference at City Hall on Thursday.
Memorial Chairman Rabbi Gordon Geller, of Temple Emeth Shalom in Margate, said that his secretary became “nonchalant” about the calls coming into their office.
“‘Rabbi, you have a phone call from Sofia,’” Geller recalls her saying. “‘Rabbi, you have a phone call from Moscow.’ ‘Rabbi, you have a phone call from Sydney.’”
The memorial, planned to go up at the site of a pavilion on the beach side of the Boardwalk, between New York and Kentucky avenues, “will be a major non-casino attraction and help to revitalize Atlantic City,” Geller said. “It will provide a critical message of our common humanity and of ‘Never Again’ to the multitudes for years to come.”
About eight to 10 finalists will be decided upon by the end of May, Shabazz said, with the designs to be displayed in the Boardwalk Hall over the summer for the public to view. The panel of judges, which is expected to include Paul Winkler, executive director of the New Jersey Board of Holocaust Education, Wendy Evans Joseph, designer of the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and Daniel Liebeskind, the architect behind the planned skyscraper at the World Trade Center site in New York.
“This thing is real,” said Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford, honorary co-chair of the memorial committee. “I just can’t wait until we get to the point where we’re cutting a ribbon. A monumental step has been taken.”
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