SOMA’s Remember & Tell Holocaust remembrance service to be April 18

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SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The 44th annual Remember & Tell South Orange/Maplewood Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Service will go virtual on Sunday, April 18.

The annual interfaith observance, the first of its kind in New Jersey, began in 1977. It is dedicated to the memory of the millions of victims of the unprecedented murders that took place during one of the darkest periods of 20th-century history, the Holocaust. Every year, the service gives a platform to individuals who were witnesses and survivors. These people share their stories and messages of personal experiences with the community. Most of the surviving witnesses to the Holocaust were children during World War II, and their experiences reflect the direst consequences of prejudice and hate. 

In 2020, for the first time since its founding, the service was canceled, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the event’s committee was determined to hold the service and decided to do it virtually, which brought some changes to the usual format. Key elements, such as the focus on the survivors themselves and the involvement of clergy from different congregations and faiths, were included. The many contributors each videotaped short segments, which were then compiled into a single service lasting an hour and a half. The program will go live on April 18 at 4 p.m., but viewers will be able to see the video anytime afterward on the SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Service’s website at, or on YouTube.

At each year’s Holocaust Remembrance Service, the Sister Rose Thering Holocaust Education Award is presented. The award was established in memory of the late Seton Hall University professor Rose Thering, who dedicated her life to fighting prejudice through awareness, education and cooperation. 

This year’s award will be bestowed upon Fred Heyman, 92, who has spoken to countless groups about his experiences in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust and has joined students from all over New Jersey on more than 100 bus trips to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. 

Also receiving the award is Cantor Erica “Rikki” Lippitz, who has been the cantor at Oheb Shalom Congregation since 1987, when the Jewish Theological Seminary invested two women, one of which was Lippitz, as cantors for the first time in the history of the Conservative Jewish movement. Lippitz has played a vital role in the Holocaust Remembrance Service for much of its long history, and she is being honored as she embarks on her retirement.