EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — About 260 Holocaust survivors who came to South Jersey to rebuild their lives after World War II were remembered Sunday in a ceremony at Rodef Shalom Cemetery.
Sponsored by the Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center at Stockton University, the event included the reading of names of those who have since died.
Many are buried in the Holocaust Survivor section of the cemetery, where more than 50 people gathered to read the names. If the readers knew them, they shared brief memories.
Gail Rosenthal, director of the resource center, remembered Lola Zuckerman as the candymaker of Zuckerman’s Candies who brought her recipes from Germany. Others were remembered for their cooking, kind hearts and devotion to Judaism.
Liz Klem, of Galloway Township, a student in Stockton’s Master’s of Holocaust and Genocide Studies program, was a reader.
“I didn’t know any of these people, but it’s an honor to say their names,” she said.
Plastic surgeon Ira Trocki, of Margate, said his parents, Mira and Jack Trocki, are buried there and worked with other community members to create the special section.
He said his parents were from Vilna, Poland, where about 95 percent of Jews were killed by Nazis and local collaborators.
His parents survived death camps and came to the United States in 1946 with nothing, living for a time in a farmhouse in Mays Landing with three other families to make a new start, he said.
His father eventually became a successful builder, he said, starting what is now Jack Trocki Development LLC.
A survivor herself, Miriam Greenman, of Margate, said she was saved by the Bielski partisans, an organization of Jews who rescued other Jews around Nowogrodek and Lida in what was Poland and is now western Belarus.
The Bielski partisans saved about 1,300 people, helping them survive in the forests in the area, she said.
“It was a terrible time for us. There was a lack of food, and we were always in fear of being killed by the Germans,” she said. But the Bielski brothers were her heroes, she said.
Rabbi David Weis, of Congregation Beth Israel in Northfield, said when he was growing up he “knew about the Shoah, but when I was a kid no one ever talked about it.”
He got the most information from a teacher who had been in the Auschwitz concentration camp and would answer questions about the numbers tattooed on her arm, he said.
His immediate family had come to the United States around the turn of the 20th century, he said, so escaped the horrors.
But when he saw a 50 mm film taken in 1935 by his grandparents on a trip back to their home village of Bialystok in northern Poland, he realized the magnitude of the loss.
“It was the first time I saw all those people,” he said of seeing the film in the 1970s. “They were not 6 million nameless Jews.”
They were his aunts, uncles and cousins, he said. By 1942, they were all dead.
“We may not all be children of survivors,” Weis said, “but let us be clear, we are all children of the Shoah.”
Shoah is a Biblical word that means destruction and has become the standard Hebrew term for the murder of European Jewry, according to the World Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem.
Trocki said the ceremony is a time for the community to come together between the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana, Sept. 21 to Sept. 22, and the Day of Atonement of Yom Kippur, Sept. 30, “to remember people and the atrocities that happened in the Holocaust.”