Nashville’s Holocaust Memorial welcomed two very different groups of visitors this summer: Metro Nashville Police Officers and Israeli teenagers.
On June 21 and July 5, Memorial Committee Chair Felicia Anchor led tours for approximately sixty new and transfer officers of the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD). Lt. Michelle Coker, Office of Community Outreach & Partnerships Division (OCOMP), arranged the tours as an important component in learning about the diversity of the Nashville community. The groups also toured the Islamic Center, Play Dance Bar, and Room in the Inn.
In introductory comments about Nashville’s Jewish community, Deborah Oleshansky, Director of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville, thanked MNPD for its past partnership and encouraged the officers, “To be more present and comfortable in our physical spaces, especially Akiva Day School.”
Anchor highlighted the diversity within the Jewish community, and openly appealed to the officers to help fight rising antisemitism. “Let’s interact on a regular basis, to improve our community together, not just when a hateful incident occurs,” she said.
In comments standing in front of the “Book of the Jewish People” sculpture, Officer Mark E. Bennet, representing OCOMP at the second tour, concluded, “I view our badge as a ministry. People should not be afraid to see our badge or uniform. We must strive to be viewed as guardian angels of EVERYONE we serve. Seeing the beauty of this memorial, and the resilience of the Jewish community here in Nashville, inspires us to learn more about these neighbors, to protect them better.”
On July 20, Docent Chair Marsha Raimi discussed the Memorial and her family’s Holocaust history with seven Israeli teens and two chaperones who visited Nashville. In a lunchtime discussion with the “Thank Goodness It’s Thursday” seniors’ group, many remarked how green and beautiful the area is, and how generous their host families were. When asked about Holocaust education in Israel, the teens explained that it starts very early, by participating in the national recognition of Yom HaShoah. Each grade adds depth and perspective; concluding with the opportunity in high school to travel to Poland or Germany to tour camps and memorial sites.
Although rain prevented the group from touring the actual sculpture garden, Raimi provided an overview of what they would have seen at each stop and related it to her father’s survival story. Saul Raimi was almost 15 when the Nazis invaded his hometown north of Warsaw; 17 when he was deported to Auschwitz; and 21 when liberated. These six years are significant in Israeli teens’ lives as they bookend the start of high school and completion of mandatory military service. After the talk, one teen asked where she’d located the records about her father’s time in the camps; explaining that he was researching his grandmother’s history. They both agreed how important it is to remember our ancestors who were lost, and to continue to discover the details of their daily lives.
To schedule a docent-led tour for yourself, friends and family, or any community group you’re involved in, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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