Events held to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day

Wave Staff and Wire Reports

CULVER CITY — A Holocaust Remembrance Day service was conducted April 18 at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary in Culver City, including a presentation by Leora Raikin, a founder and executive director of the David Labkovski Project.

The project seeks to engage students through Labkovski’s artwork in Holocaust history in an attempt to begin constructive conversations about the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and antisemitism.

Raikin is a niece of Labkovski and an educator, artist, and author who teaches students about the Holocaust and Jewish life in Eastern Europe through his artwork.

Labkovski was born in what is now the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius in 1906, was a set designer at the Moscow State Yiddish Theater and attended the art academy in Leningrad. He was drafted into the Soviet army in 1937 and arrested shortly thereafter and sentenced to a Siberian gulag as “an enemy of the state.”

Labkovski was released after three years and returned with his wife to Vilnius following the slaughter of nearly all of city’s Jews by the Nazis and would go on to document life in the city before, during and after the Holocaust with his paintbrush and pencils. Labkovski emigrated to Israel in 1958 and died in 1991.   

A communitywide Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration was held April 16 at Pan Pacific Park in the Fairfax District, marking the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the revolts at the Sobibor and Treblinka death camps, and included a speech by Harry Davids, whose parents were murdered at Sobibor.

The keynote address was delivered by Jeffrey Abrams, the Los Angeles regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, who discussed the importance of the organization’s new #LearnToNeverForget campaign, a public awareness and advocacy campaign to improve and expand Holocaust education.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass also was among the speakers.

On her social media pages, Bass wrote: “This week we renew our commitment to stand up against any type of hate or antisemitism whether it appears in our own city or anywhere in the world.”

This was the first time the commemoration was held at Pan Pacific Park since 2019. The commemoration was held on a virtual basis in 2020 and 2021 because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic and at Holocaust Museum LA in 2022.

Under a 1953 law passed by the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day is annually observed on the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, which began at sundown April 17 and ended at sundown April 18.

President Joe Biden issued a proclamation April 14 declaring April 16-23 as the “Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust,” and calling “upon the people of the United States to observe this week and pause to remember victims and survivors of the Holocaust.”

“The horrors of the Holocaust are painful to recount — the savage murder of innocent families and the systemic dehumanization of entire populations,” Biden said in the proclamation. “We remember the cries for help that went unanswered and the bright futures cut short.

“We must never look away from the truth of what happened. The rite of remembrance becomes more urgent with each passing year, as fewer survivors remain to share their stories and open our eyes to the harms of unchecked hatred.”

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