On the 19th of June, the annual Holocaust commemoration took place in Bardejov’s Jewish Suburbia. The event was hosted by the Bardejov Jewish Preservation Committee and the US Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad , and we were much honored to have the Commission’s Chairman Hon. Paul Packer as our special guest.
The event, which took place inside the Holocaust Memorial and also in the Old Synagogue, was attended by representatives of Bardejov’s City Council, district institutions and the Prešov self-governing region, as well as representatives from the Churches in Bardejov and representatives of the Jewish religious communities in Prešov and Košice. Local citizens of all ages were also represented in abundance and of course many descendants of Bardejov’s Jewish community from around the world.
Before entering the renovated Old Synagogue, Mr. Emil Fish, founder of the Bardejov Jewish Preservation Committee together with Hon. Paul Packer and representatives of Jewish religious communities in Slovakia, attached a mezuzah to the door-post of the entrance door.
The program inside the Synagogue began with an address by the Slovak Prime Minister, Mr. Peter Pellegrini, which was sent to us especially for the event. He addressed the need to never forget the cruelty of the Holocaust and the horrors of Nazism and to prevent the rise of extremism in our society. Other speeches were delivered by Vice Mayor Vladimír Savčinský, Mr. Emil Fish, and Mr. Paul Packer.
The highlight of the event was the unveiling of the Parochet covering the Holy Ark where the holy Torah scrolls used to be stored. The Parochet was custom-made in Jerusalem and was presented by Mr. Emil A. Fish and the Bardejov Jewish Preservation Committee.
As in each of our past commemoration ceremonies, an important part of the event was the announcement of the winners of the essay competition and art competition on Holocaust related topics, in which a large number of local Bardejov high school students participated for the fifth year in a row.
The students presented the jury with their essays and artwork on two Jewish themed subjects: “What would be today’s Bardejov if the Holocaust never happened and the Jewish community would still live with us in our city today?” and “How do you perceive the significance of Parochet and Mezuzah in Jewish symbolism?”. The artwork and the winning essays were on display in the Beith HaMidrash for viewing.