Project Holocaust Garden of Hope in Kingwood halfway through fundraising goal

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Writer and philosopher George Santayana once said: “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. “

Teaching people about the history of the Holocaust, so that the horrific events of that period will never be repeated, is the goal of the Holocaust Garden of Hope project, which organizers plan to build along the shores of Lake Houston in next to King’s Harbor Development in Kingwood. .

Organizers hope to launch the $ 3 million project in September 2022. The garden, which will be an open-air pedestrian museum focusing on the Holocaust experiences of children and youth, will use painting, sculpture, music, physical structures and creative educational tools. to deliver his message of keeping hope despite adversity in a family way.

Rozalie Jerome, founder and executive director of the Holocaust Garden of Hope, said the Holocaust Remembrance Association, also known as HRA18, the parent organization of the Garden, is already halfway to its fundraising goal. . The number 18 is important in Jewish culture, symbolizing life.

Although King’s Harbor developer Midway donated the land to HRA18 several years ago, Jerome said she only started fundraising for the project last year, after the garden had obtained a building permit from the city of Houston.

“In the first year, we were able to raise almost a million dollars,” she said.

Because the property is in a flood zone, “anything built there will be permeable,” Jérôme said. “If the water rises, when it falls, you will just have to do the cleaning and plant a few beds in the front,” she said.

Jerome, who is also the executive director of HRA 18, is herself a descendant of Holocaust survivors.

“My father was in hiding by Christian business friends in Budapest. My mother was hidden in plain sight in a hospital, ”she said. Most of the rest of his family were rounded up by the Nazis and transported to Auschwitz where they were murdered. “My dad lost his dad and all but one sibling. My mother also lost most of her family, except for two brothers.

Jérôme became involved in the March of Remembrance movement, an international campaign that brings together Holocaust survivors and their descendants with the descendants of their Nazi persecutors in a spirit of healing.

In 2012, Jerome helped organize the first Walk of Remembrance to be held in Kingwood, bringing together Jewish and Christian organizations. “We have welcomed almost 1,000 people with 35 churches involved,” she said. “We had Nazi descendants who came from Germany at their own expense. We had the Israeli consulate, the Turkish consulate, and six Holocaust survivors. The Walk has since become an annual event.

The idea to build the Garden of Hope on the proposed site came from Alexander Pollak, a local Holocaust survivor who spoke at one of the Kingwood marches. Pollak believed that the scenery along Lake Houston strongly resembled the sight of Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia, where his father died. The victims of Jasenovac also included 20,000 children and Pollak thought it would be appropriate to build a garden to honor the young victims of the Holocaust.

The keepsake will be the theme of the garden, starting with the entrance, which will feature a large stone wall, filled with stones from the Upstander Stones project, with one stone for each of the 1.5 million child victims of the Holocaust. Jerome said that the 20,000 students of Humble ISD were each to paint a stone, symbolizing the life of a child, with the stones that will be used in the construction of the Garden.

The Garden will include seven exhibits, each presenting aspects of the history of the Holocaust. The first exhibit will use stories, newspaper articles, and illustrations to illustrate what the ordinary life of Jewish children looked like before the Holocaust.

The following exhibits will illustrate: the impact of the hate message that the Nazis promoted as the infamous “Final Solution” approached; stories of “defenders”, of men and women who risked their lives to save the Jewish people during the Holocaust; the liberation of the concentration camps by Allied soldiers and the message of hope for a future in which the horrors of the Holocaust will never be repeated.

On October 29, Jérôme met at the Polish Consulate in Houston with the Polish Consul General Robert Rusiecki to discuss an exhibition in honor of Janusz Korczak, Polish writer, radio personality and educator considered a Holocaust martyr, who died in the Treblinka concentration camp.

“He was given a chance to be saved, but he chose to stay with the children in the camp,” Jerome said.

Rusiecki is expected to be the guest of honor at a fundraising dinner theater on January 29, 2022 at the Nathaniel Center on Russell Palmer Drive in the Kingwood area.

To help complete the project, visit https://holocaustremembranceassociation.org/garden-of-hope/ to donate and learn more about the Holocaust Garden of Hope.


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