Hershel Greenblat had just started his remarks as keynote speaker at the annual community Holocaust observance when a tiny voice cried out. With obvious pride, Greenblat noted that the appeal for attention came from his great-grandchild.
In its own way, the moment symbolized a theme of the 54th annual service of remembrance May 5 at the Memorial to the Six Million inside Greenwood Cemetery.
The event, attended by about 400 people, was sponsored by Eternal Life-Hemshech, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, and The Breman Museum.
“The list of survivors is getting smaller and smaller,” said the 78-year-old Greenblat, who spent the first two years of his life hiding with his parents in caves in southwest Ukraine.
As the generation that witnessed the horror of the Holocaust passes from the scene, the focus shifts to teaching the children about the experiences of their elders. The service honored survivors, each lighting a memorial candle with the assistance of a young person.
Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer, Israel’s Consul General to the Southeastern United States, herself the daughter of Hungarian survivors, said, “Our responsibility is to take responsibility for the memory of the Holocaust.”
Shorer also noted that at the same time as the service, Israel was under attack by rockets fired from within the Gaza Strip.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp used his remarks to stress his support for Israel and the Jewish community. “We must stand vigilant to stem the rising tide of anti-Semitism,” Kemp said.
As World War II ended, Greenblat’s family escaped the Iron Curtain descending over Eastern Europe and spent five years in displaced persons camps in Austria before emigrating to the United States.
“We must embrace the stranger in our community,” said Greenblat, who arrived in Atlanta on Thanksgiving Day in 1950. He used his remarks to remember the kindness shown him by teachers and others who made him feel welcome in America.