The 2014 observance once again was attended by Newark Public Schools and Catholic School students studying the Holocaust as part of their curriculum. This year's keynote speaker was Theodore Halpern, a Jewish native of Austria whose family at the beginning of World War II sent him to Antwerp, Belgium, hoping to reach America.
However, Mr. Halpern was denied entry to the United States and was trapped in Belgium with his grandmother when Germany invaded that nation in 1940. They fled to France but were separated in a bombing raid. Picked up by an ambulance crew, Mr. Halpern was placed in an insane asylum, and then in a Catholic orphanage, where he lived for two years. He and two other young men then left the orphanage and worked as couriers for the French resistance, hiding secret messages in special shoes.
After the war, Mr. Halpern finally reached the United States, where he began a career in the New York Medical Examiner's Office, enjoyed a 48-year marriage to his wife Stella, raised a son, has actively volunteered in the community, and now enjoys the love of his three grandchildren and his hobby of knitting.
The event was sponsored by the City of Newark's Department of Neighborhood and Recreational Services, the City Office of Communication, the Newark Public Schools, the Holocaust Council of MetroWest, The Berger Organization, Betesh Group, Edison Properties, Jersey Paper, Manischewitz, RBH Group, and AFI Good Service. The Betesh Group presented departure gifts to all students in attendance and Manischewitz gave out boxes of matzo to attendees.
The City of Newark's Annual Holocaust Remembrance, now in its third decade, is the state's largest and oldest observance. Every year the observance focuses not only on memorializing those who were victims of the Holocaust, but emphasizes the importance of remembering the past for the sake of the future.
The Berger-owned Best Western Robert Treat Hotel sits within Newark's cultural, dining and entertainment hub, proximate to the city's transportation network, including Newark Penn Station, PATH light rail, and the Broad Street Station.