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Community-Wide Yom HaShoah Remembrance Commemoration Program

By Amy Unger

On Sunday, April 28th, Congregation Or Atid was privileged to present and host the 2nd annual community-wide Yom HaShoah Remembrance Commemoration program.

Around 90 members of the Richmond Jewish community gathered to honor those killed in the Holocaust, including 6 million Jews and millions of other victims of Nazi persecution.

This event recognized the crucial lessons from the Holocaust and honored the resilience of survivors.  By coming together, we reaffirmed our commitment to preserving this memory and standing united against hatred and oppression.

This year’s honored presenters were local Holocaust Survivor, Dr. Roger and his wife, Win Loria of Richmond.  They were introduced by their daughter Rachel Loria. (See photo above)

Memorial candles were lit by local Survivors, extended families, and refugees of the Holocaust in the community and with escort representatives from the local Hillel Directors at University of Richmond, Josh Jeffries, and Joel Bond from Virginia Commonwealth University.


Other candles were lit by the local “Project Daffodil” representatives, the Mollen family and members of the Eastern Region BBYO Monarchs AZA and BBYO AZA organizations who lit a candle and also recited Pavel Friedmann’s poem, “The Butterfly,” which was written in 1942 prior to his murder at Auschwitz in 1944.

Dr. Roger Loria told his powerful Holocaust story that began as only an infant. He and his mother were the sole family Survivors and were safely able to escape Belgium to freedom due to his mother’s resilience, strength, and determination along with the kind assistance of others.

Dr. Loria says he “came out of Egypt” as a 3-year-old “deserter.”  Dr. Loria and his mother fled their home in dire and poor circumstances and were considered to be refugees until the end of the war where they escaped to Switzerland.  After the war, he and his mother moved to Israel with a Jewish orphanage organization and then to the United States where he was a scholar. He is internationally recognized today as an expert in virology and immunology.

Win Loria intertwined and related her young 21-year father’s wartime military service from Ft. Lee, Petersburg, who served on D-Day as a part of the Bedford Boys.

He helped to liberate the Ohrdruf-Buchenwald concentration camp.  Although he didn’t want to talk about this war and his experiences, he earned 3 purple hearts and a distinguished service cross.


The Yom HaShoah event fell during Passover and that festival combines joy with bitterness as we experience record rising antisemitism in our country and Israel. This year is especially painful with losses due to terrorism.

In an unexpected surprise, Halina Zimm, a local Survivor, came up to the podium at the end of the program and also spoke to the group. She reiterated that it is important that we tell the stories of Survivors, so we don’t forget our past and what is possible.  She also stressed that in the face of the Holocaust, we cannot be silent with what happened then and what is happening today.


Daniel Staffenberg, CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, related that we should be proud of our Jewish heritage and must engage and envision our history with hope.  We must rise up and proclaim loudly “never again!” in order to have a future life.  Daniel added, we need to learn the lessons of the Holocaust to move forward.

The important message of the morning was to recognize that antisemitism is never okay and we need to work for justice and peace.  Wherever Jewish people may live, we stand with Israel.

A huge thank you goes out to the co-chairs of the program, Alex Mendez-Zfass and Terry Schultz, as well as to Rabbi Sherry Grinsteiner, Daniel Staffenberg, Hazzan Marian Turk, Susan Greenbaum, Michael Marcus, local musicians, and the many other volunteers who made this program possible.

For more on Or Atid, see PJ Library article on digital site.