Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 5

Temple Beth El to hold community-wide observance


Temple Beth El will hold its second annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday, May 5.

The observance, called “Yom Hashoah” in Hebrew, starts at 2 p.m. and is open to the community. It will feature a talk by Dr. Bernie Furshpan, the son of Holocaust survivors and a Bohemia resident.

Rabbi Ilan Pardo of Temple Beth El will speak and several area leaders will offer readings, including Patchogue mayor Paul Pontieri; Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter, pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue; and Rev. James E. Reiss of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Among the things planned for the observance are the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish, modified to include the names of the concentration camps, and Rabbi Pardo’s singing of “The Partisans’ Song,” which was the anthem of the Jewish resistance fighters who fought the Nazis in the Vilna Ghetto.

Pardo, who came to Temple Beth El in 2022 from a congregation in Pennsylvania, said his previous congregation observed Yom Hashoah and he wanted to bring that tradition here.

As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, it’s important to keep their memory alive and to not forget the atrocities they endured, Pardo said.

“We’re not always thinking about the Holocaust because there are so many other issues we’re thinking about,” Pardo said. 

The Holocaust is something Furshpan, who speaks about it at schools across Long Island, never forgets.

Furshpan, an educator, board member and marketing director at the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove, will tell the audience how “an entire tree trunk” of his family was wiped out in the Holocaust.

Furshpan’s father Murray (Moshe) was one of only 30 people in his Polish village of 1,500 who survived the Nazis. The other seven members of the family were killed. Moshe, just age 10, managed to survive by hiding in the woods for three years and eventually emigrating to Israel, where he met and married Furshpan’s mother, a fellow survivor.

“It was horrific what he had to endure,” Furshpan said of his father, who eventually relocated the family to Brooklyn and became a skilled plasterer and tile installer. “I tell this story not to depress anyone, but to show people how society can sink to this level of hell.”

Furshpan said he feels compelled to make sure the story is not lost to history.

“It’s important that the second generation continues to tell the story so it’s not forgotten,” he said.

This year’s observance comes amid a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, which were already on the increase but have escalated further in the wake of the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

Almost 8,900 anti-Semitic incidents occurred in the U.S. in 2023, according to the Anti-Defamation League. That was a 140 percent increase from 2023 and the largest number since ADL began tracking them in 1979.

Furshpan sees disturbing echoes of the past in the anti-Semitic tropes finding a new audience today.

“We have to stop the pattern that keeps repeating itself,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Register for the event by May 2 at www.patchoguejewishcenter.com or call (631) 475-1882. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Donations will be shared equally between Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel, and for restoration of Temple Beth El’s Holocaust Torah showcase.


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