Week of virtual programming replaces in-person Philly Holocaust remembrance ceremony

Holocaust Memorial Plaza
Photo credit Andrew Kramer/KYW Newsradio
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah, began Monday night, but communities across the globe are honoring survivors differently this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Normally, Philadelphia draws a pretty big crowd for its annual ceremony at the Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. But not this year — social-distancing protocols replaced the ceremony with a virtual candle-lighting instead. 

The Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation held the ceremony over Zoom Monday night, but there are several other events taking place throughout the week.

“We are offering a weeklong program focused on Holocaust education, focusing on remembrance,” said Ezter Kutas, PHRF executive director.

Programs include podcasts, virtual tours and testimonials from survivors. 

Kutas said any one of the programs should put what’s happening today into perspective.

“This unprecendeted time we are facing in our generation is nothing really in comparison to what millions and millions of people faced during the Second World War, especially during the Holocaust,” she added.

She hopes this weeklong observance becomes something they do every year moving forward. 

“At this critical time we are facing, all of us are looking for connection and community, and remembering the lessons of the Holocaust just gives us an opportunity to do that.”