“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.”-Anne Frank
Located off a picturesque country back road, there is a special place here in South Jersey. A holocaust memorial dedicated to all those who perished and those who lived. What makes this place even more unique, is that many of those who survived the Holocaust are buried in the Alliance Cemetery where the memorial is situated.
The city of Norma where the cemetery is located has tremendous Jewish history. In 1882, forty-two families escaped the pogroms of Russia. A pogrom is a violent attack usually in a mob-like setting, resulting in either killing, destroying property, or beating Jews. These progroms resulted in massive emigration of Jewish folks in the late 19th century out of Russia.
Norma, here in South Jersey, was the first agricultural settlement of Jewish people in the United States. They were a part of the Am Olam Movement which predominately believed in returning to the soil. This area has extremely fertile soil and located in NJ’s infamous Outer Coastal Plain.
One of the oldest synagogues in the United States is located right down the street called the Tifereth Israel Synagogue. It was built in 1889. You will pass it on your right upon your arrival to the cemetery. You have to check it out!
When you arrive at the cemetery you will be humbled. The grounds are serene.
The Holocaust Memorial is located in the back of the cemetery. You can’t miss it. You will most likely, cry your eyes out. I did anyway. It is beautifully done.
The wrought iron sign is reminiscent of the entrance of the evil camps that the Jews were sent to. The back wall has the name of the concentration camps. The center of the memorial has hands in prayer, in a somewhat fire pit, holding up a flame to heaven with the tattoo markings on their arms. The inner walls have plaques in honor of those living and those who perished during the Holocaust.
What choked me up in tears was the plaque of the one million martyred children who perished at the hands of the evil Nazis. I can’t fathom such horror.
After taking a few moments to compose myself again, I walked around the serene cemetery grounds. I noticed on many of the tombstones “Holocaust Survivor” is written. I took a few photographs and had to do my research on these strong and brave people.
One man, Miles Lerman is most notably at rest here. He was born in Poland and was a poultry farmer. He survived the Holocaust and moved to Vineland. Lerman is the founder of the infamous United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. He helped raise $190 million dollars to get the project off the ground. If you haven’t seen the memorial, it is a must in your lifetime. I visited the memorial in my teens and have never forgotten it.
Another Holocaust survivor’s tombstone, Sylvan Silverstein. He was Born in Poland and then moved to America with his late wife June. He loved the casinos in Atlantic City and spending time with his family.
Last, but not least. My encounter with Arthur Kuhnreich’s final resting place. He wrote a book called, Holocaust Memories 1939-1945. I am unable to obtain a photo because of copyright laws. However, here is an excerpt from his book at www.jewishgen.org:
"In the first week of December 1941, the Gestapo demanded twenty men to be sent to Auschwitz concentration camp for work. Father was arrested, but released. We were so happy they let him go, we could hardly believe it. My father said, 'I don’t trust them. It must be a trick.'
The next day, early in the morning, all of us, men, uncles, cousins, seven in all, went into hiding at the farm of Polish friends, Salapatek, who helped us many times. That same day, two Gestapo men showed up at our house asking for me. My mother told them that I was at work. They said very politely to report to them in the evening and bring all my documents to be checked. My mother asked innocently if there was anything wrong. They said, 'No, just checking.'
Naturally, I stayed in hiding, never slept or ate at the same place, afraid of being caught. Of the twenty men arrested and sent to Auschwitz, nobody survived. All were dead within two weeks’ time and their ashes were returned to their families for which they had to pay.
I wanted to put faces to the names. These are real human beings that suffered. Six Million people were killed by the hands of despicable animals. May they rest in peace."
Lets Us Never Forget.
As Elie Wiesel so gracefully puts it, “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”
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