Bayonne’s April 18th Holocaust Program To Feature Former NY Times Writer Joseph Berger

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Bayonne’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Service is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18, at 6:00 p.m., in the Dorothy Harrington City Council Chambers at 630 Avenue C.  The event is sponsored by the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of Bayonne and the Bayonne Interfaith Clergy, and is hosted by the City of Bayonne.  Mayor Jimmy Davis is the honorary chairman of the program.

The featured part of the program this year will be a presentation by former New York Times columnist, editor, and reporter Joseph Berger.  Mr. Berger will discuss the life and contributions of Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel.  Mr. Berger is the author of a book about Mr. Wiesel, Elie Wiesel: Confronting the Silence.  A native of the former Soviet Union, Mr. Berger lived with his family in displaced persons’ camps in Germany after World War II.  Bayonne resident and Holocaust Program Co-Chair Helene Kessel Nagiar lived in one of the same camps as Mr. Berger. Joseph Berger was a New York Times journalist for over 30 years, writing about education, religion, and New York City as well chronicling many of the events that have shaken Israel and the Middle East. He retired from the newspaper in December 2014 and now teaches urban affairs at the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College.

Mayor Davis and other elected officials offer brief remarks and present proclamations, resolutions, and citations.  Clergy from various faiths will offer prayers and reflections. Members of Bayonne’s veterans’ groups will carry the colors and the banners of their posts.  Bayonne students will also participate in the processional.  The Vox choral group from St. Peter’s Prep will offer songs.

Hara L. Benjamin-Garritano, a cantorial singer, will lead the singing of Hatikvah.  Alan Gordon Smulen, a cantorial singer from Temple Emanu-El, will lead the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Natalia Sirna will be their accompanist.

The event will include a candle-lighting ceremony to remember the victims of the Holocaust.  

The winner of the Holocaust writing contest at Bayonne High School, will read from the winning essay.  The student will receive an award sponsored by the Preminger and Epstein families. 

Arnold Wendroff is President of the UJA Federation of Bayonne. Dr. Ellen Goldberg is the Executive Director of the UJA Federation and the Jewish Community Center. Ilona Rosenberg is President of the Bayonne Jewish Community Center.  Helene Kessel Nagiar and Joseph E. Ryan will co-chair the service.

For more than three decades, this memorial program has usually taken place in the City Council Chambers at 630 Avenue C, Bayonne.  In 2021 and 2022, the program was taped in segments at Bayonne High School, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  For 2023, the Holocaust memorial service is back in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The program is free and open to the public.