Yom HaShoah rites to mark ghetto resistance

‘Freedom Fighter’ by Robert Russin, in the Tucson Jewish Community Center Sculpture Garden (Courtesy Jewish History Museum)

“Resistance and Resilience: Facing Hatred with Courage Yesterday and Today,” marking the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, will be the theme of this year’s commemorative observance of Yom HaShoah at Congregation Anshei Israel on Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. The uprising lasted from April 19 to May 16, 1943. Uprising survivor Wanda Wolowsky will be among those in attendance.

Gil Ribak, Ph.D., professor at the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Arizona, will deliver the keynote address. “My talk will indeed refer to the Warsaw Ghetto rebellion, and more specifically to those at the Warsaw Ghetto who also resisted in other ways,” he says, highlighting the Oneg Shabbat (Sabbath pleasures) group, which included writers, teachers, communal workers, and scholars.

“The group members used to meet secretly on Saturday afternoons in the ghetto. Members, who lived under extremely adverse and dehumanizing conditions, provided the documentation and research of that tragic period, as well a repository of the spiritual heritage of the generations murdered with such cruelty. The man behind the group, who also came up with its name, was Emanuel Ringelbum — historian, teacher, social activist and intellectual, who was murdered (with his family) by the Germans in March 1944,” says Ribak.

“The event will highlight a wide spectrum of modes of resistance from armed struggle to cultural and spiritual forms of resistance,” says Bryan Davis, executive director of the Jewish History Museum/Holocaust History Center, which organized the event. “Additionally, it will reflect Jewish resilience both in Europe before the era of the Third Reich and through efforts and renewing and building Jewish life after the Shoah.”

“We are hoping for participation from younger people in the community. After all, they are the generation that will have to carry on the work against genocide,” says JHM President Hedy Feuer. “We want it to be about hope and resistance in the future. There is always hope in the most desperate of times. You need to stand as a testament to the strength of determination, especially now.”

Pianist Richard Hereld and violinist Rose Todero will provide the musical interlude and accompaniment.

For more information, contact Lisa Schachter-Brooks at museum@jewishhistorymuseum.org or 670-9073.