Etz Chaim, St. Ann’s Keep Shoah Memories Alive
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Etz Chaim, St. Ann’s Keep Shoah Memories Alive

Commemorative bricks are being sold in the synagogue's memorial garden.

The Holocaust Memorial Garden at Etz Chaim is much more than bricks.
The Holocaust Memorial Garden at Etz Chaim is much more than bricks.

An ecumenical program called Books and Bricks is helping Congregation Etz Chaim and the Catholic Church of St. Ann educate their youths about the Holocaust.

The program uses the annual commemorations of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) in the spring and Kristallnacht in the fall as bookends for the educational efforts.

When St. Ann’s played host to a Yom HaShoah event for the two East Cobb congregations last April, it marked the seventh year the two had gotten together for the Holocaust commemoration. It also marked the launch of the “bricks” portion of their relationship.

The Etz Chaim Men’s Club and the St. Ann’s liturgical group announced an effort to sell 100 bricks in the Holocaust Memorial Garden at Etz Chaim, with the proceeds dedicated to sending members of the teen youth groups of the congregations on trips together to the visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Nearly half the sponsorships were pledged at the commemoration.

Barry Riesenberg, the fundraiser’s organizer and a former Men’s Club president, said: “We plan to send youth from both Etz Chaim and from St. Ann’s to Washington with the hope that their visit will impress upon yet another generation the ultimate requisite to never forget the extermination of over 6 million Jews and others in Nazi concentration camps. Likewise, we hope and pray that from this trip these kids will continue the dialogue between the two teen groups, similar to what the adults have formed.”

The fundraising effort continued in November when the Men’s Club hosted a Burgers and Bricks cookout for members of both houses of worship to learn more about the joint project.

In his welcoming remarks, Rabbi Daniel Dorsch asked those present to recall the tragedy of Kristallnacht in November 1938. He noted that bricks were thrown into Jewish-owned stores in Germany on those horrific two days.

“Today we are using bricks in a positive manner to provide a life-changing visit for the youths to the Holocaust museum,” he said.

Rabbi Dorsch unveiled the special bricks in the Holocaust Memorial Garden that had been purchased since Yom HaShoah, and people were given stones to place on each brick.

The fundraising program continues.

For a contribution of $100, brick sponsors receive a dedication certificate and a copy of Elie Wiesel’s trilogy of “Night,” “Dawn” and “Day,” based on his experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Last year’s Yom HaShoah program had focused on Wiesel’s life and influence.

Bricks in the renovated Holocaust Garden may be used to memorialize any loved one, not just Holocaust victims.

Bricks can be purchased at Riesenberg can be reached with any questions at

Father Ray Cadran, the pastor of St. Ann’s, is the son of a concentration camp liberator during World War II. “We are blessed to have these two communities committed to dialogue, faith sharing and cooperation,” he said, “and for going the extra mile while walking along G-d’s paths.”

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