This year’s Yom HaShoah commemoration was, as were all of our past commemorations, moving and heartbreaking. This year’s, however, was utterly remarkable and several people are to be commended for their role in creating our remembrance.
First, thank you to Melissa Hamilton, a caring, soft-spoken violist with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, who went through much soul-searching before reaching the decision to bring the music of Leo Smit, a Dutch Jewish composer who perished in Sobibor, to the attention of Bryan Davis at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.
Although not Jewish, Ms. Hamilton has long been sensitive to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. I don’t know how she managed to bring a German maestro — he came especially to participate in the event — to conduct her fellow symphony musicians, how she managed to get those musicians to participate, nor how she got the chair of the Dutch Composer’s Guild to come as well.
Thank you to Mr. Davis for bringing the idea to the Yom HaShoah committee; we embraced the idea immediately. And last, but certainly not least, much gratitude to Professor Beth Nakhai and Rabbi Thomas Louchheim who have co-chaired the committee for many years with devotion and strong leadership.