The Candle Project shines a light on lost lives

Numerous Cape Town families will soon give some of their time to reflect on the realities of the Holocaust and how this huge event affected people on an individual level. With Yom Hashoah – the remembrance day for the Holocaust – falling in early May this year, the Cape Town Holocaust and Genocide Centre (CTHGC) will again provide yahrzeit candles as part of its Candle Project.

“We started this project three years ago,” explains Dianne Jocum of the CTHGC, the driver behind the project again this year. “The project is geared to bring the concept of the 1,5 million children who were killed during World War II into something more tangible than this huge number, which is difficult to understand.”

The CTHGC will provide 1 750 candles to children in Cape Town’s Jewish day schools, as well as Jewish children at some other Cape Town schools. “Each candle is distributed together with a card bearing the name and age of a child who perished during the worst period in man’s history,” she explains. “This way, 1 750 Cape Town families are made aware of a particular child whose right to life and to develop as a human being was brutally taken away. People are invariably left wondering about the particular child whose life they are commemorating in their own homes 80+ years after they were killed, and so the story of the Holocaust becomes much more real.”

The children receiving a candle will light it on the eve of Yom Hashoah, which this year falls on  5 May. It will continue burning for at least 24 hours, and so the members of the family are drawn by the flickering light of the candle throughout that period to reflect on that child’s life.

The CTHGC liaises with Jewish Studies teachers to ensure that age-appropriate education about the Holocaust is conveyed to our youth. Says Kuba Nowakowski, the Director of the CTHGC, “We express our sincere appreciation to the teachers and educators who are collaborating with us once again on this special project. Their dedication and involvement are truly invaluable.

“We also wish to acknowledge the generous support for this Project of the Wilfred and Fay Back Foundation, whose contributions continue to make this Project viable.”

“This initiative is an important element in raising awareness about the Holocaust. As the years pass, the time distance between the events and the current generations widens, and so there is clear value in making young people aware of what happened in their formative years,” Dianne concludes.

The Yom Hashoah commemorative service takes place at Pinelands No. 2 Cemetery on Monday, 6 May, from 12h00 – 14h00. The theme of this year’s event marks the 80th anniversary of the destruction of the Jewish community of the island of Rhodos in 1944.

• Published in the April 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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