Holocaust Remembrance Foundation of the Valley’s held its 6th annual March of Remembrance Sunday, April 28. While those gathered at Murrieta Mesa High School for the event were there to honor victims and survivors of the holocaust, the shooting at Chabad of Poway Synagogue shooting the day before the march, weighed heavy on some minds.
During the march, Murrieta Mayor Pro Tem Randon Lane expressed the need to show
continued support for the Jewish community in the area, emphasizing that recent events such as the Chabad of Poway Synagogue shooting would not deter anyone.
The event included pre-march activities and music followed by the March of Remembrance and ended with a litany of community leaders and organizers, religious leaders and a Holocaust survivor giving remarks about the event and the importance of fighting anti-semitism.
The event kicked off with a variety of pre-march activities in the courtyard at Mesa’s performing arts center. Then with the call of a Shofar horn, participants, each bearing the name tag of a Holocaust victim including the name of the concentration camp they had died in and a Star of David identical to ones Holocaust victims were forced to sew on to their clothes, with the word “Jude” printed in the center, lined up to begin the march.
Many marchers held miniature American and Israeli flags, while some waved full sized Israeli flags. Several participants stood alongside the march’s route, holding signs with photos of the Holocaust to remind participants of why they were marching. One marcher, Kristin Wong, had never been to the event before. She said she was attending the event to gain more insight into the Holocaust before traveling to Berlin this summer and visiting one of the concentration camps.
Once back at the high school, participants crowded into the performing arts center to hear a range of speakers, including Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, County Supervisor Chuck
Washington, Murrieta Mayor Jonathan Ingram, Rabbi Jonasan Abrams, singer Tess Kempner, Holocaust Remembrance Foundation of the Valley founder Pastor Jack Flournoy, Pastor Ron Marks and Holocaust survivor Doctor Robert Gyori, among others.
While all of the speakers spoke of the Holocaust and it’s horrific impact on the world and the lives of victims and their families, they also all addressed the recent uptick in anti-Semitic violence following the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in October of 2018 and the Chabad of Poway shooting on April 27. Rabbi Abrams, a mentee of Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was injured in the Chabad shooting on Saturday, urged the audience to pray for those who had been injured.
Jack Flournoy said that his foundation had received calls of support from around the world after the events that unfolded Saturday. Pastor Ron Marks, who spoke to the audience about Romais killed during the Holocaust, encouraged them to not “look the other way” when they see hatred.
Holocaust survivor Doctor Robert Gyori also impressed upon those in attendance that while the Holocaust may have ended, the underlying threat of anti-semitism and wide spread hate still pose a serious problem. Falling victim to the horrors of the Holocaust after his native Hungary was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1944, Gyori warned audience members to “not fool themselves” as an event similar to the Holocaust could happen in America too. He said that while he himself may not have much time left to live, the next generation had the power to shape the world for years to come and needed to be taught about the horrors of the Holocaust and the negative impacts of anti-semitism. Gyori also warned that politicians should “stop politicizing” issues like anti-semitism and work towards a solution.
Holocaust Remembrance Foundation of the Valley began in 2014, after founders Pastor Jack
and Jan Flournoy attended a Holocaust Memorial Day observance in 2013 at a synagogue in
Flournoy said he was “saddened to see that there were only 22 people in attendance and “no civic leaders, no pastors, no youth groups, [and] no one from the local schools” in the audience.
In an interview with the Valley News on April 22, Flournoy said that the goal of events such as the March of Remembrance are there to “educate the next generation” to “always be vigilant and not let anti-semitism rise again.”
He said that “each year more and more people are involved” in the Holocaust Remembrance Foundation of the Valley after the march takes place, adding that the continued education of youth about the Holocaust and the bringing together of the local Jewish community with other groups will take place through his foundation’s Holocaust Memorial in Town Square Park in Murrieta.
Flournoy said the memorial will be “a place for teachers to bring their students” to learn about the Holocaust as well as “educational” for the community as a whole.
To learn more about the annual March of Remembrance, the Holocaust Memorial or to donate to the memorial fund, visit www.hrfv.org.