Part of the front lawn of Congregation Sons of Israel was filling up with symbolic colored flags on Wednesday afternoon. Temple members and Nyack residents joined in placing the small yellow, white, yellow, red and pink flags in the ground to honor the memories of the millions lost during the Holocaust.
Larry Kintisch, a 35-year temple member, said the volunteers were putting 1,200 flags in the ground and each flag was commemorating 10,000 civilians killed during the Holocaust. The Upper Nyack resident said the idea came from a larger display he saw several years ago in Boulder, CO where each flag symbolized 5,000 lives.
“We hope people will just come by and look it,” he said. “Industrial murder, the Holocaust has to be remembered.
Ellen Fronchek of Nyack said it was important to participate.
“It’s not just a Jewish issue,” said Fronchek who is a member of the Orangetown Jewish Center. “It’s a human issue. If we don’t remember it, it could happen again.”
She said the flags were a powerful way to help people realize that millions of innocents lost their lives.
“I thought this was a wonderful idea to visualize,” said Fronchek. “The numbers from the war are not imaginable. They’ve done this so you can have some kind of idea.”
10-year old Ben Levin of South Nyack and 13-year old Jordan Irgang of Grandview-on-Hudson were among the volunteers.
“I’m doing this today to remember the victims of the Holocaust,” said Levin.
Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham led the participants in a short memorial service in front of the Nyack synagogue. He read poetry written during the Holocaust and then they recited the Mourner’s Kaddish including the names of all the concentration camps: Auschwitz, Lodz, Ponar, Babi Yar, Maidanek, Birkenau, Kovno, Janowska, Theresienstadt, Buchenwald, Treblinka, Vilna, Bergen-Belsen, Mauthausen, Dachau, Minsk, Warsaw.
The flags were placed for Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and each one represents 10,000 people killed during the Holocaust – 600 yellow flags for the six million Jews; 340 white flags for the 3.4 million Soviets; 200 red flags for the two million Poles; 40 pink flags with a blue stripe for the 400,000 Gypsies; seven pink flags with a black stripe for the 70,000 Disabled; two pink flags with a white stripe for the 20,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, and two pink flags for the 15,000 Homosexuals.
The flags will remain until April 29.