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Volunteers helping create a Holocaust Memorial, the first of its kind in the Central Valley

Chabad Jewish Community Center, Bakersfield
Posted at 10:45 PM, Feb 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 04:37:32-05

The Jewish Center in Bakersfield is creating a Holocaust Memorial to help remember the six million Jews who lost their lives during that time. Community members are stepping in to help to make that possible and have embraced that promise.

“It makes me feel good because I’m not here for myself, I’m really here for everybody else,” said Cathy Lu with the National Honor Society at Stockdale High School. She and her peers were some of the volunteers at the Chabad Sunday morning who were helping sorting the buttons to build the memorial.

Each button represents a life lost in the holocaust to visually show the colossal impact of the holocaust, so the exhibit will be made of 6 million buttons. Esther Schlanger with the Chabad of Bakersfield says almost all of the buttons have been collected, but now need to be stored and cleaned before putting them in the boxes to go on display.

“It’s a community project. the buttons were collected from the community, it’s being built with community funds, and we’re all in this together. This is for the community, the Bakersfield community to remember the victims of the holocaust, so we’re all doing this together,” Schlanger said.

She says it’s important to create this memorial with buttons to show every individual life, and make sure they are never forgotten.

“People just like me and you living their lives, and then annihilated,” she adds. “There’s no one there to remember them because whole communities perish, so even as we’re sorting them, we’re remembering because we’re counting, we’re touching, we’re remembering and it’s very powerful.”

Volunteers sorted the buttons by material into plastic, glass, rubber, wood, pearl and others. That way the buttons don’t interact with each other and rot when they are placed in the containers.

This was Skye Dent’s first-time volunteering with button sorting. “It was a lot of fun.” She says it’s important to volunteer with opportunities like these because it helps you learn about other faiths and can understand them better. She hopes more people will come out and support the effort, saying it’s easy to get started.

“I just walked in the door, and they just gave me a box of 5,000 buttons. Just come down and they’ll show you how to be supportive.”

Schlanger says they hope the memorial will be open to the public in Fall. And in the meantime, say they can use all the help they can get to make that possible. “Grateful for everyone that’s come out since and everyone that plans on coming out, we’re incredibly grateful,” she said.

Everybody is welcome to volunteer. If you want more details, you can call the Chabad of Bakersfield at (661) 834-1512 or email at info@chabadofbakersfield.com.