International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Honoring victims all year long

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(ABC 6 News) – During the Holocaust, more than six million Jewish people were killed. Around the world, people are honoring the lives lost with International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

At B’nai Israel Synagogue in Rochester, there is no specific service for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. But, the remembrance continues all year long.

One way the synagogue remembers the lives lost is with Bar or Bat Mitzvahs. A coming of age celebration for when someone turns 13. It’s a big milestone for Jewish families and for families who attend B’nai, it has an additional meaning.

“We have a very strong commitment to holocaust reflection and holocaust remembrance,” said B’nai’s Rabbi, Michelle Werner.

“So for our Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations, each one of our children shares his or her Bat or Bar Mitzvah with a child victim of the holocaust. Someone who didn’t live to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah of their own.”

The synagogue is the caretaker of one historic memento from that time in eastern Europe. A Torah that is more than 350 days old and survived the Holocaust. The synagogue applied to the Westminster Trust to be the caretakers of one of more than 1,600 holocaust surviving scrolls.

“Our students when they have their Bat or Bar Mitzvahs, they read from this scroll so they read from a scroll that for over 350 years was read by young Jewish people. They’re very aware of the fact they’re carrying on that flame.”

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is not to be confused with Yom HaShoah, the Jewish version of Holocaust Remembrance Day. It takes place in April and B’nai will have a remembrance service then.