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Holocaust victims, survivors to be remembered during Yom Hashoah ceremony at Birmingham-Southern College

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-"Memories of Courage" is the theme of the Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) ceremony for Holocaust victims and survivors to be held at Birmingham-Southern College Tuesday, April 9. This is the first time that the annual Alabama State Holocaust Advisory Council/Alabama Holocaust Commission-sponsored ceremony has been held in Birmingham.

The ceremony at Birmingham-Southern, coinciding with similar ceremonies nationwide, will begin at noon in the college's Norton Campus Center Theater and will include a lighting of six candles in memory of the six million Jewish people killed during the Holocaust. A seventh candle will be lit in memory of others killed during World War II. The candles will be lit by Birmingham residents who are Holocaust survivors or the children of survivors.

Dr. Jan Gross, educator and author of Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, and finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony. In July 1941, half of the population of the small east European town of Jedwabne, Poland, murdered the other half-some 1,600 men, women, and children and all but seven of the town's Jews. The event was featured on a recent episode of CBS's 60 Minutes.

Gross, born in post-WWII Warsaw, Poland, attended Warsaw University and received his Ph.D. from Yale University. He has received the Distinguished Humanist Award 2002, was a Nike Literary Prize nominee (Poland) in 2001, and received the Order of Merit, Knight's Cross (Polish Republic) in 1996. He is a professor of politics and European Studies at New York University.
Gross also will speak and sign his book on Monday, April 8, at 6 p.m. at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Council, created by Congress in 1980, was mandated to lead the nation in civic commemorations and to encourage remembrance observances throughout the country. The Alabama State Holocaust Advisory Council was organized in 1984, following this mandate and resolution by then President Ronald Reagan. The Alabama Holocaust Commission was formed three years ago by the state Legislature and is served by 20 commissioners throughout the state and by advisory committee members. Paul Filben of Mobile is chairman of the commission.

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