A Holocaust Memorial in Virginia
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A Holocaust Memorial in Virginia

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The victims of the Holocaust will be remembered in this city of close to 220,000 people because there is now a monument on the grounds of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. A bronze and copper sculpture was dedicated here on Yom HaShoah last month at an interfaith worship service attended by some 400 people.

The sculpture is titled "Rachel Weeping for Her Children," based on a passage about Rachel in the Book of Jeremiah (31:15). The sculpture, eight feet tall and set on a three-foot base, depicts the slender figure of a woman, hands to her face, surrounded by six tongues of flames representing the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

A worship service, following the dedication, included readings from the Scriptures, narratives related to the Holocaust and the lighting of seven candles — six for the Jewish victims of Nazism and one for the "Righteous Gentiles" who assisted Jews or perished in the attempts to save them, it was reported by the National Catholic News Service (NCNS).

At the dedication ceremony, Rabbi Leon Klenicki, director of interfaith affairs for the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said: "The ideology of Nazi totalitarianism as well as other forms of totalitarianism, both in the past and today, is essentially an attempt to destroy God, Jews, Christians and other faith commitments," the NCNS reported.

He said the historical revisionists, those who deny the Holocaust existed, and others who seek to explain the Holocaust by invoking political, economic and social reasons, have turned to "easy explanation" in order "to diminish the horror." But the genocide, Klenicki added, was rooted in a pagan attempt to "destroy God and God’s kingdom." Bishop Walter Sullivan of Richmond, who commissioned the sculpture, said he wanted to "remember in a visible way the terrible tragedy of the Holocaust" and hoped the community might sponsor a memorial. He said that two years ago he broached the idea to Klenicki, who encouraged the effort, according to the NCNS.

Sullivan said he was moved to establish the memorial after hearing a comment by Father Edward Flannery of Providence, R.I. Speaking at a local synagogue several years ago, Flannery, a specialist in Christian-Jewish history and author of "The Anguish of the Jews," said he was often asked "When will Jews forget the Holocaust?" He replied that Jews would forget the Holocaust when Christians begin to remember.

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