Greg Weitzman, Past President, TBT Men's Club
This is the story of how a little Yom Hashoah candle, along with the hard work and generosity of many people, turned itself into a spectacular and meaningful Holocaust Memorial built on the campus of our Temple.
The Temple Beth Tikvah Men's Club in Fullerton, California, joined the MRJ in 2002. One of the first projects that we involved ourselves in was the Yom Hashoah Candle Program. The TBT Men's Club has always been generous with supporting various temple needs, but we felt that any profits from the candle program should go toward something special. We decided that a fitting use of the funds would be to someday build a Holocaust Memorial on our property. We didn't know when we would build, exactly where we would build, how much it would cost, or what it would look like, but we just quietly put the money aside for future use. In 2007 Temple Beth Tikvah began a fund-raising campaign to build a new Religious school and a general rejuvenation of our entire property. If we were ever going to build a Holocaust Memorial, this seemed like the time to do it. With the help of one of our congregants who is a sculptor, and input from others on our committee we came up with a beautiful design which included a wall designed to look like the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a weeping Star of David with a waterfall coming from the star, granite steps leading to an eternal flame filled with chunks of broken glass with the entire Memorial surrounded by a beautiful garden and also a Garden of the Righteous Gentiles. We had saved $12,500 from the candle program. Unfortunately, that didn't come close to the $85,000 it would take to build the Memorial. We decided to try and raise the rest of the funds or else we would not build it. Immediately the Temple Sisterhood, Neshot Tikvah, matched our funds with an additional $12,500. Even though the Temple was asking everyone for pledges to build the new school, within two weeks we had raised over 80% of what was needed to build the Memorial and soon after had the needed funds. We recently finished our new school, the As a Center for Lifelong Jewish Learning, and we just had the dedication for our Holocaust Memorial. The Memorial will stand as a message to "Never Forget" and we will use the Memorial as a means to teach our children and the community at large about the horrors of hate and about the beauty of hope. And it began with a little yellow candle. Without the MRJ Yom Hashoah Candle Program to serve as our catalyst, this would never have happened.