News_EtzChaim_Rev. John Gabriel_yom hashoah

St Ann’s Rev. John Gabriel leads part of the service on April 15

Etz Chaim and St. Ann Church Commemorate Holocaust

News_EtzChaim_survivor_Hershel Greenblat

Survivor Hershel Greenblat tells his story to those in attendance.

On April 15 more than 400 members of both Congregation Etz Chaim and St. Ann Catholic Church gathered for a joint event to observe Holocaust Remembrance Day. It wasn’t the first time that the congregations have collaborated to remember the Holocaust, but it was the largest gathering of the two groups yet.

The event, held at St. Ann carried a theme of “Invincible Hope” and was planned by Carmen Lerma, St. Ann Parish Community Activities Director and Steve Dix of Etz Chaim.

Starting with the sanctuary in darkness, candles were lit against the background of St. Ann Teen Life members acting out the famous Martin Niemuller complaint, “First They Came”.  Following a rendition of the Shema, the attendees heard the moving story of Atlantan Hershcel Greenblat, a Holocaust Survivor. His personal journey was followed by stories of Christian bravery and defiance. Rabbi Shalom Lewis and Rabbi Paul Kerbel of Etz Chaim also participated in the program.

The two congregations had previously collaborated for the rededication of Etz Chaim’s Holocaust garden where the featured speaker was St. Ann’s Father Raymond Cadran whose own father was among U.S soldiers who documented the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. The following year St. Ann invited Etz Chaim to a ceremony in the church’s Reflection Garden where a tree was planted in honor of the bonds of faith between the communities.