Thursday, April 12, 2012

Remembrance in Titanic Proportions

In case you haven’t heard, there is a big anniversary approaching involving a tragic sea voyage. Dozens, if not hundreds, of articles have appeared this week about the fate of chivalry, atmospheric factors, memorial cruises, class and ethnicity, and of course… the auction by RMS Titanic Inc. of more than 5,000 objects salvaged from the bottom of the ocean. Some of these items, which you might have seen exhibited around the world, include hats, boots, china, the personal objects one would take on a journey, whether on a vacation or as the first step in a new life in a new country.

I have been thinking a lot about the clothes, primarily because last month was the 101st anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire (which was the subject of a blog last year). Like the folks traveling in less than glam quarters on the Titanic, those young women and girls were the working poor. Their tragic deaths became intertwined with labor rights and workplace safety and are rooted in Greenwich Village. Could they have made the clothes that were packed away for an Atlantic crossing? I do not know. What I do know is that remembering the lives of the deceased is too important to leave to big anniversaries that garner media attention.

According to Jewish tradition, the anniversary of a death is a day of reflection to remember what was lost. The observance of this day is called yahrzeit. As an institution dedicated to Holocaust memory, we remember those killed in the Holocaust each and every day.

For many of the millions who were murdered during the Holocaust, the anniversary of their deaths is unknown. To mourn them and to commemorate the loss of all who perished, a special day has been set aside – Yom HaShoah – a day when the entire community gathers to remember and reflect. We are preparing for Yom HaShoah next Thursday, April 19. Survivors and artifact donors will be in the galleries and admission is free with suggested donation. On Sunday, April 22, we will join together for a community-wide Holocaust observance, the Annual Gathering of Remembrance, at Temple Emanu-El. Tickets are required for this event and can be reserved here.

You can find out the yahrzeit date for important people in your life by going to this site.

If you are observing the titanic loss of 1,500 souls, there are many institutions providing opportunities for reflection, some in a more whimsical fashion than others. Here is a list from Time Out New York. Our friends at the New-York Historical Society have an exhibition. And of course the Titanic Memorial can be found at the corner of Pearl and Fulton, at the entrance to the South Street Seaport, which has its own exhibition, too.

May the memory of all who were lost be remembered today and always.

1 comment:

Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP) said...

It's also worthwhile remembering that the families of more than half of the victims--all non-English speaking--were never compensated for the loss of their loved ones. Neither did the salvage company--RMST Titanic--in cooperation with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) bother to consult with the heirs of the Titanic victims before moving forward with an auction of their belongings. A familiar story of indifference and disdain much like the one that afflicts untold numbers of Holocaust victims' heirs even to this day. Hence, the commemoration is bittersweet. Ask the French Titanic Association how they feel about it...
Thanks for your article, though. That is my reflection as a Jew on the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster.

Marc Masurovsky