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Las Vegas’ first Holocaust memorial to honor victims, survivors

Updated April 23, 2022 - 6:44 pm

Nevada’s first Holocaust memorial plaza is expected to open to the public Sunday at the only Jewish mortuary in Southern Nevada.

The memorial is a Star of David on a quiet pathway behind King David Memorial Chapel &Cemetery off South Eastern Avenue near Robindale Road in Las Vegas. Along the upper three walls of the star, historical events are etched in soft, gray stone from the time Adolf Hitler came into power. At the top point of the star sits a gold plaque with a quote that was etched into the cellar of one concentration camp.

“I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining, And I believe in love, even when there’s no one there. And I believe in God, even when He is silent,” the quote read.

Toward the bottom of the star sits six bronze plaques naming six concentration camps in Poland: Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor, Chelmno, Auschwitz and Lublin.

Rabbi Sanford Akselrad collected soil from outside each camp and plans to bury the soil below each plaque.

“We know Jews walked upon this soil, and they might have walked on it sadly to their death, but with this monument, the people who are here will be able to learn about the lessons of the Holocaust,” he said. “So they will be standing in a spiritual way with the people who died, affirming life and the lessons of life.”

Founder and general manager of King David, Jay Poster, said destroyed brick walls and iron stand out from the star, symbolizing the cities destroyed during World War II. Inside the star’s shape are small bronze plaques matching those in Europe where Poster said 70,000 similar bronze plaques are outside the homes of Holocaust victims in 1,200 cities.

For Esther Finder, president of the Holocaust Survivors Group of Southern Nevada, the memorial will serve as a way for her to honor her grandparents. She hopes it will move other survivors, some of whom will stay home and watch the livestream Sunday because of ailing health.

“I don’t know where my grandparents are buried, so at least I have some place like this to come to,” she said.

Finder’s grandparents died in Chelmno, and her parents survived Auschwitz. She hopes the memorial can educate those who don’t have a personal connection with the Holocaust.

“Just seeing the destruction, imperfection and rawness I think will help people get a sense of how the world for the Jewish victims was destroyed,” she said.

The plaza will be open and free to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily beginning Sunday.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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