SOMA’s annual Holocaust remembrance to be online this year

SOMA’s annual Holocaust remembrance to be online this year

Cantor Erica “Rikki” Lippitz, left, Fred Heyman, left, with Howard Goldberg
Cantor Erica “Rikki” Lippitz, left, Fred Heyman, left, with Howard Goldberg

The 44th annual South Orange / Maplewood (SOMA) Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Service will be presented online on Sunday, April 18, at 4 p.m. After it streams live, the video will be available on the SOMA website,, and on YouTube.

Since 1977, the SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Service—the first of its kind in New Jersey—was dedicated to the memory of the millions of Holocaust victims. The service gives a platform to witnesses and survivors who share their personal stories and messages with the community.

Last year’s event was canceled because of the pandemic. This year, the planning committee was determined to hold the service, but recognized the need for a virtual showing. They focused on key elements—the survivors and the involvement of the interfaith community’s clergy. Contributors videotaped short segments, which were compiled into a 90-minute service.

Recognizing the importance of ensuring the lessons of the Holocaust resonate with younger generations, the service includes scenes Columbia High School 10th graders reacting to readings and films about the Holocaust.

The Sister Rose Thering Holocaust Education award is presented during the annual service. Fred Heyman of Morris Plains, 92, is an awardee. He has spoken to many groups about his experiences in Nazi Germany and has joined students from all over New Jersey on more than 100 bus trips to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. 

Howard Goldberg, pictured above, of West Orange, was paired with Fred as part of the Twinning Project, an initiative to teach young people about the Holocaust. He made a documentary about Fred’s escape from the Nazis and later they travelled together to Berlin, where Fred was born. The photo was taken at a memorial in Berlin.

Cantor Erica “Rikki” Lippitz of Congregation Oheb Shalom, who is one of the first women cantors invested by the Conservative Jewish movement, also will be honored. Cantor Lippitz has played a vital role in the Holocaust Remembrance Service for much of its long history and is being honored as she embarks on her retirement.

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