Augusta Jewish community remembers Holocaust, looks forward

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Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 / News 12 at 11 o'clock

EVANS, Ga (WRDW/WAGT) - Song by song, candle by candle, we remember each life of a generation lost.

Members of the Jewish Community Center of Augusta paid their respects to those who died--and survived--the Holocaust in a moving service in Evans Thursday night.

"We are here to teach the next generation what happened there, so that it will not come again," said Rabbi Shai Belooseski of the Walton Way Temple.

Yom HaShoah--Holocaust Rembrance Day--is a reminder for many Jews that hate will not stand. During the Holocaust, 6 million people were killed, simply for being Jews.

"I am here standing in front of you because of my grandmother," Belooseski said.

Rabbi Beloosesky gave the opening remarks and talked about his grandmother, who survived the horrors of Birkenau and Auschwitz around 75 years ago.

Out of 12 children, only she and 2 others survived.

"My grandma did not speak about things that happened for a long time...because, as she said, 'I don't want you to know what happened there because you would not believe me,'" Belooseski told News 12.

He says he can't imagine the pain she went through, watching Jews shot, burned and buried alive.

For years until her death, he says his grandmother prepared food in small to-go bags.

"I asked her: 'why are you doing it?' She said 'maybe we'll have to run again.' Where do you have to run?"

But in a sense, he and Augusta Jewish Federation president Robin Brigmon still feel like they're running from evil.

"We need to think more about security and things like that, which we didn't before, but now it's more and more a part of our lives," Brigmon explained.

He points to attacks in Pittsburgh, San Diego just days ago, and a new wave of antisemitism seemingly sweeping the world.

"Just like the airports after 9/11 changed everything, this is happening here as well," Brigmon said.

Just weeks ago, benches that sit next to a concentration camp monument at the JCC were vandalized. The Community Center ended up having to replace them.

It's hate like this that drives both men--and their congregations--to stand in solidarity.

"Jews, Christians, Muslims, all the faiths...because we are created in the image of God Almighty--all of us," said Rabbi Belooseski.

"We know we have to stand together to be stronger," Brigmon added.

Brigmon also says their chapter has been in touch regularly with local law enforcement, as well as the local branch of the FBI, to make sure they know about all threats in the area; they want their people to stay safe.

Belooseski adds that it shouldn't have to take a tragedy to bring people together. He wants followers of all faiths to stand together every day, and bring peace to one another.