Remembering Raoul Wallenberg 2023
On Sunday, August 6, 2023, the annual celebration of the birth of Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg, Courage and Compassion: Remembering Raoul Wallenberg, was held at Smith Field Park in Parsippany-Troy Hills at the site of the sculpture dedicated to his heroism. The program, co-sponsored by the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, Adath Shalom Synagogue, and the Parsippany Interfaith Council, commemorated the humanitarian message of Raoul Wallenberg who became a literal lifeline for up to 100,000 Hungarian Jewish citizens who would have otherwise ended up in the Auschwitz and Treblinka death camps as World War II was winding down. Guests were also greeted by the Vasa Order of America, District Lodge New Jersey No. 6. Vasa is a Swedish American Fraternal Organization.
On this perfect summer day, attendees were welcomed by Meyer Rosenthal, Chair of the Adath Shalom Holocaust Education Committee and Chair Emeritus of the Morris County Human Relations Commission. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Chuck Farber, a 98-year-old, World War II veteran and former resident of Parsippany-Troy Hills.
Following the Invocation by Reverend Dr. Stacie Turk, Pastor, First Baptist Community Church, the program opened with greetings from Kory Warner, Vasa District Master. He spoke about how much Raoul Wallenberg is revered by the Swedish people.
Next we heard from Rabbi Shalom D. Lubin, Congregation Shaya Ahavat Torah and Rev. Donald A. Bragg, Parsippany Presbyterian Church, who compared Wallenberg to Isiah who, when God asked “Who will go?” answered “I will go.”
Clarence Curry, Jr., Chair of the Morris County Huma n Relations Commission (MCHRC), praised the MCHRC as it celebrates the diversity of Morris County. He was followed by a musical interlude by Cantor Avima Rudofsky Darnov, Adath Shalom and Cantor Bruce Ruben, Temple Beth Am. They sang Blessed is the Match by Hannah Senesh, a poet from Budapest who worked with the Resistance during World War II.
Unable to attend, Dr. Edward M. Adams, creator of the sculpture Courage and Compassion, sent a letter which was read by Meyer Rosenthal. Dr. Adams regretted that he couldn’t be there and wrote about his creative thought process. “Do I design a sculpture that honors a particular man?” His decision was to design a sculpture that signifies Courage and Compassion.
The next speaker was Aviva Neuman, Head of Culture & Public Affairs, Swedish Consulate of New York, who brought us greetings from Sweden, the Swedish people, and the Swedish Consulate. She quoted James Baldwin, “The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.”
Kellie Doucette, District Director, Office of Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, brought greetings from the Congresswoman, who was unable to attend.
John Krickus, Director, Morris County Board of Commissioners, was next. He spoke about Harry Ettinger, a Morris County resident, who was one of the Monument Men of World War II. He noted that the last of the Monument Men recently passed away at the age of 102. He also spoke about Edward Mosberg, another Morris County resident, who survived the Holocaust and was a Holocaust educator until his death in 2022.
The next speaker was James R. Barberio, Mayor of Parsippany-Troy Hills, who read a Proclamation declaring August 6, 2023, Raoul Wallenberg Day in Parsippany-Troy Hills. He told us “We are all born with a talent and a purpose,” and that Raoul Wallenberg gave his gift back to God.
In lieu of a benediction, Rabbi Moshe Rudin, Adath Shalom Synagogue, related how Raoul Wallenberg freed cattle cars full of Jews who were on the way to the camps by declaring them “under the protection of the Swedish Consulate” and about how Wallenberg faced down Adolf Eichmann, a key figure in the Nazi extermination of the Jews. After the war, Raoul Wallenberg, age 32, disappeared into the Russian prison system and his whereabouts are still unknown.
At the close of this moving commemoration of the life of Raoul Wallenberg, several participants placed white roses at the base of the sculpture. It was a fitting ending to a wonderful program.