Yesterday saw the dedication of the Rhode Island Holocaust Memorial, remembering the more than six million Jews murdered by Hitler and the Nazis, plus the many who escaped, including those who moved to and made a new life in Rhode Island.
The memorial was created by the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island and the Holocaust Education and Resource Center of Rhode Island.
The above lovely photo by Bob Thayer of the memorial ran in today’s Providence Journal with a moving story of the dedication, “Providence’s Holocaust memorial a place to remember and reflect,” by Paul Edward Parker. He wrote of survivor Alice Dreifuss Goldstein, 80, who spoke to an audience of about 200 at the event:
“It’s amazing how many people don’t know about it,” Goldstein said … “The main thing that’s important is that we keep teaching this story.” Speakers at the dedication of the memorial said it would accomplish just that, while also being a place of quiet reflection for people to contemplate the horrors of the Holocaust and the strength of those who endured it.
The memorial, designed by Brown and RISD-based sculptor Jonathan Bonner, sits just south of the World War I Monument by architect Paul Philippe Cret, erected in the 1920s and moved from the demolished Memorial Square to the new Memorial Park in 1996.
Bonner’s design, chosen from 12 entries in a competition, features a crescent of six tapering black granite pillars, perhaps smokestacks, from three to ten feet in height that embrace a curving brick walkway inscribed with railroad tracks leading to a large white granite stone that suggests the memory stones placed by loved ones atop the gravestones of their ancestors.
By Thursday afternoon, about 20 small stones had been placed atop the ovular shape at the center of the memorial. The design strikes me as overly literal but maybe that is why it is so moving. It was a beautiful day. My son Billy and I sat on a bench nearby and watched people walk to and through the space. Some sat near it, perhaps in contemplation. Then we went away. It was sad. It was supposed to be sad, in spite of the feeling of hope embodied by the white stone. But the memorial’s existence here, finally, spoke volumes for hope in the state that bears the word as its motto.