By JOHN TABELLIONE, Special to the Bulletin | Published February 26, 2018
MARIETTA—A unique program called “Books and Bricks” serves to educate the youth of Congregation Etz Chaim and St. Ann Church in Marietta about the Holocaust.
The program uses two memorial dates to educate the communities—“Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day” (Yom HaShoah) and the 1938 pogrom of “Kristallnacht” (Night of Broken Glass).
Over the past several years, through a series of discussions, including videotapes, dialogue questions and resources called “Walking God’s Paths,” the two faith communities have come together frequently for sharing of events at each other’s places of worship.
On April 24, 2017, at St. Ann Church, the two East Cobb congregations commemorated Yom HaShoah together for the seventh year, advancing ongoing dialogue and relationships.
During the remembrance program, the men’s club of the synagogue and the liturgical group from St. Ann offered an innovative opportunity to the 300-plus attendees and to the general public to purchase 100 additional bricks for the Holocaust garden located at Etz Chaim.
Proceeds are to be used to send members from the teen groups of both communities together to the visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
While nearly half of the sponsorships were pledged at the commemoration, the Books and Bricks campaign is ongoing.
Barry Riesenberg, organizer and former president of the men’s club, 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 six 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 teens groups, similar to what the adults have formed.”
On Nov. 12, 2017, the men’s club hosted a “Burgers and Bricks” cookout for congregants of both houses of worship. Dozens of attendees enjoyed the food and learned more about the joint project.
In his welcome speech, Rabbi Daniel Dorsch asked those present to recall the tragedy of Kristallnacht. He noted no small irony in the fact that bricks were thrown into Jewish-owned stores and shops in Germany on those horrific two days 79 years ago.
“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 visitors received pebbles to place as permanent markers on each brick.
Sponsors of bricks will receive a dedication certificate and a copy of Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel’s “Night-Dawn-Day” trilogy, based upon his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. The Yom HaShoah Holocaust remembrance program had focused on the life and influence of the late Wiesel.
Bricks in Etz Chaim’s renovated Holocaust Garden are reserved not just for those who perished in the genocide, but can also be used to memorialize a loved one with the dedication of the donor’s choice. A contribution of $100 is requested for each brick.
Father Ray Cadran is pastor of St. Ann. The priest’s father was a concentration camp liberator during World War II.
“We are blessed to have these two communities committed to dialogue, faith-sharing, and cooperation and for going the extra mile while walking along God’s paths,” said Father Cadran.
Heather Blake from Etz Chaim and Ann Marie Martin from St. Ann organized and promoted the Yom HaShoah commemoration ceremony to their respective houses of worship.
Bricks ordered at the same time may be placed next to one another in the memorial garden. General donations will also be accepted.
To participate in the “Books and Bricks” program, with the goal of sending teens to the Holocaust Museum, please purchase a brick at https://etzchaim.net/brickproject or contact Barry Riesenberg at email@example.com or 770-916-1991.