Volunteers help create a Holocaust memorial

The Jewish Center of Bakersfield is creating a Holocaust memorial to help remember the six million Jews who lost their lives during this time. Community members step in to make this possible and have delivered on this promise.

“It makes me feel good because I’m not here for myself, I’m really there for everyone,” said Cathy Lu of the National Honor Society of Stockdale High School. She and her peers were among the Chabad Sunday morning volunteers who helped sort out the buttons to build the memorial.

Each button represents a life lost in the Holocaust to visually show the colossal impact of the Holocaust, so the exhibit will consist of 6 million buttons. Esther Schlanger of the Chabad of Bakersfield says almost all the buttons have been collected, but now need to be stored and cleaned before putting them in the boxes for display.

“It’s a community project. the buttons were collected from the community, it’s built with community funds, and we’re all in this together. It’s for the community, the community of Bakersfield, to remember the victims of the holocaust, so we’re all doing it together,” Schlanger said.

She says it’s important to create this memorial with buttons to show each individual life and ensure they are never forgotten.

“People like you and me live their lives and then get wiped out,” she adds. “There’s no one to remember them because whole communities perish, even as we sort them out, we remember because we count, we touch, we remember and that’s very powerful.”

Volunteers sorted the buttons by plastic, glass, rubber, wood, pearl and other material. This way the buttons don’t interact with each other and rot when placed in the containers.

This was Skye Dent’s first time volunteering with button sorting. “It was very fun.” She says it’s important to volunteer with opportunities like these because it helps you learn about and understand other religions better. She hopes more people will come out and support the effort, saying it’s easy to get started.

“I just walked in the door and they just gave me a box of 5,000 buttons. Come down and they’ll show you how to be supportive.

Schlanger says they hope the memorial will be open to the public in the fall. And in the meantime, say they can use all the help they can get to make this possible. “Grateful for everyone who has since come out and everyone planning to come out, we are incredibly grateful,” she said.

Everyone is invited to volunteer. If you want more details, you can call the Chabad of Bakersfield at (661) 834-1512 or email [email protected]

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