Verona, NJ – Neighbors Claim Holocaust Memorial Is A Daily Reminder of Death

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    Some residents in Verona, NJ find this Holocaust memorial offensive, claiming it's nothing but a reminder of death. Others, however, say that it's vital to remember what happened.  CBS Verona, NJ – They are memories so painful, they’re fueling a heated debate in an unexpected spot.

    A neighborhood in Verona, New Jersey is divided over a Holocaust memorial. Some residents say the memorial is a daily reminder of death, and they want it moved.

    The memorial is a railroad track leading to a barbed wire-wrapped star bearing the names of concentration camps. It’s the vision of Sarah Kriegel, the daughter of Holocaust survivors.

    “The tracks are the ones that carried all the people to the death camps, to the labor camps,” Kriegel says.

    “We have to remember the Holocaust,” a Verona resident said.

    The memorial, just outside Congregation Beth AHM of West Essex in Verona, brings Jane Janoff to tears – but not for the reasons you may think.

    “When my 10-year-old daughter thinks something like this is going to happen to her, she’s too young to understand that it’s not,” Janoff says. “But she really thinks something is going to happen to her because of this memorial.”

    Janoff, whose husband, Michael, is Jewish, says she doesn’t mind having a memorial across from her home. However, she says she’s offended by the 11 wooden railroad ties representing the six million Jews and five million Christians killed in the labor camps.

    “Really, it’s a symbol of death to us,” she says.

    Janoff and some of her neighbors want the tracks pulled.

    “I feel that this memorial is very extreme,” one neighbor says.

    “I wouldn’t even mind if it’s temporary, kind of like you have Nativity scenes from Christmas. Fine, I get it. To me, that would be more acceptable,” Michael Janoff says. “But every day, day in and day out, I have to think about, ‘wow, people died during this event.’ It’s just horrible.”

    Rabbi Aaron Kriegel says the tracks are an important teaching tool, and he has no plans to remove them.

    “If we took out the tracks, we would just be giving in to the senseless kind of thinking that says, ‘well, I can close my eyes while evil happens and pretend that it’s not there,'” Rabbi Kriegel says.

    It’s a lesson no one wants to live through again.

    Residents complained to the Town of Verona, but the town manager says there’s nothing they can do because the memorial doesn’t violate any statutes or codes.

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    50 COMMENTS

    1. The point of a memorial is not to remember something for the people. It is to remind the people who see it to remember for themselves. Everyday.
      Of course this is a very sad reminder, and of course the neighbors would rather not see it and forget, but that’s the point of the memorial. To see it everyday and remember the atrocities that occurred. And be sad.

      • BS”D
        I couldn’t disagree with your comment or the memorial in any but strong terms.
        Be sad?!
        How can we perform the ‘Mitzvah’ of serving G-d with joy with such terrible reminders.?
        I met two Holocaust survivors; the husband with numbers on his arm and the wife without, who don’t talk about it at all — too negative. What’s the point?
        Why not make a memorial to Betar? Some commentaries say 15 million perished. Aren’t they important?
        Holocaust museums are a waste of money. Build yeshivos and seminaries.
        That’s ‘sechel!’ (The whole reason the Holocaust happened was that the Jews of the time trusted Amalek. Teach Jews not to trust or assimilate.
        (The ‘Freidiker Rebbe’ Purim 1941 talks about it. ‘Likutei Dibburim.’)

    2. To bad people are spoiled these days and take our freedom for granted, a daily reminder of what we’ve got to appreciate isn’t to bad, in away its recommended so you appreciate and thank god every morning for every breath of freedom you have. Iguess for some that’s to much to handle (thanking god)

    3. If she is offended then she will just have to deal with it. This should be the worst thing she has to face. It is real death that is the most difficult. That is the wonderful thing about freedom of speech and freedom of religion – as long as no one harms her, it is only her mind and beliefs that are making difficulties. If she wants she can walk on the other side of the street and if she wants she can, l’havidal, even spit when she is bothered by it.

    4. being the daughter of two survivors, i appreciate the memorials. but in their right place. i dont think a residential street is the right place. the photo illustrates a very strong memorial. perhaps the best i’ve ever seen. perhaps too strong for a residential area.

    5. Hey, Jane Janoff, think about this:
      If you lived in Nazi Germany, you would have gotten off the hook (apparently, you are NOT Jewish – what luck!), your husband (who IS Jewish – too bad) would’ve been sent to a labor camp, and your daughter (who is NOT Jewish!) would be sent to the gas chambers!
      But, no. Let’s pull out the memorial so we don’t have to be reminded of the 6 million Jews(including 1.5 million children) who actually were sent to their deaths.
      Jane, you’re pathetic.

    6. I do agree with the those folks. Its a little too much all that drama in front of a synagogue, in a residential neighborhood. Put in a museum , put it inside , but outside I’m sorry, but I can see it bothering neighbors.I am a frimme yid, grandson of holocaust survivors from all sides , My grandparents hardly could get them selfs talking about the subject.

    7. I heard the lady interviewed by the news and I can hear where she is coming from. Realize that she isn’t emotionally attached to the memorial as we are therefore from a realistic standpoint the memorial is death related and scary.

      • What about the disgusting advertisements that I am constantly subjected to from the cleft palate people? In newspapers, magazines, on buses, etc. I’d rather have the railroad tracks anyday.

    8. She does not ant to know that G-D is our Leader and she wants to forget the golus,ignore our people’s suffering Self-hating Jews,need to be educated

      • You wouldn’t sound so ignorant if you would actually comprehend what you read. The woman who is quoted and written about is not Jewish. She cannot be a self-hating Jew. Your lack of education makes all Jews look bad. It’s a real Chillul Hashem. I hope you don’t do it in public.

    9. maybe it’s subconscious – this lady doesn’t want to be reminded that her marriage basically accomplishes exactly what Hitler wanted – to wipe out the Jewish race…

      • How dare you! To compare her to a monster like Hitler for being married to a man that she loves! Do you have anyone in your life that is a different race or religion? Comments like these set society back decades. Do you also believe in segregation? You’re a pathetic excuse for a human being!

    10. I can appreciate the neighbors concerns. For some people, this is not just a reminder that we must not forget and always honor those who were lost , but horribly depressing to constantly be reminded of such barbarism and cruelty and that g-d allowed this to happen. For those of you who think this is a good thing to always have in your face, why have you not put a similar memorial on your front lawn?

    11. Seriously People! To say that Jane’s marriage accomplishes what Hitler wanted. How dare you say something like that. People who believe this are morons! Is two people loving eachother wrong? Saying that two people with two different religions should stay apart…do you know or love anyone outside of you religion or race? You just took our society back decades with a comment like that! Pathetic!
      She’s taking freedom for granted? Everyone is attacking her for her freedom…freedom to play in the yard with her child without being reminded of death!

      • As a matter of fact, yes. Our Torah tells us that there are certain relationships that are prohibited, and among them are intermarriages between Jews and non-Jews. (Whoever said anything about it being wrong to “know anyone outside you[r] religion or race”? That is, of course, a strawman argument.)

        And we will continue to keep that Torah law, and to do our best to educate our fellow Jews to do the same, no matter how many people like you rail against it.

      • ‘you just took our siciety back decades…’ and who decided that . listen here this is a site for torah observant yidden who did not dicard the 613 commandmends with their oral explanations so what is a christian commenting on this site?

        • Didn’t know this is a web site for jews only. I guess I didn’t get the email about the secret hand shake. This web site sounds very one sided. Good thing the tracks are in your front yard.

        • Yes, I am Christian. However if I have to look at an offensive “Jewish” memorial than I have a right to spread my Christian words. I have very close friends that are Jewish,which I consider to be my family. This is beyond a religious issue when people compare a woman to Hitler for marring a Jewish man. This is offensive to every religion alike. Me being Christian has nothing to do with these racial, obsurd, and discusting lashes taken out on this family for not wanting to look at a symbol of death.

          • Friends, we failed to take into consideration the strength of the “some of my best friends are Jewish” argument. Please accept our apologies, kdoyle.

      • Kdoyle, with all due respect, according to Jewish law, Janoff’s marriage does accomplish what was attempted during World War 2. Many sociologists refer to intermarriage as the open ended Holocaust. This is a fact that will not change and it’s difficult to sugar coat. Take your personal feelings aside, the husband’s line of Judaism that could have been traced back to Abraham, is ended, over done, finito. His choice, and that’s fine, but it is what it is.

        • Sure, it is what it is. With that being said, people have the right to choose. America, a country I’m proud to call my own is a melting pot for mixed races and religions. That’s one thing that makes it so wonderful. If two people love each other, religious beliefs, skin color, etc. should not matter because someone decided hundreds of years ago that it should. I respect every religion, I respect people’s right to choose. I myself do no feel that a blood line back to Abraham is as important as love. Just because someone is not 100% Jewish or Christian, or etc, does not make them any less of a person or anymore dedicated to their religion…Love is what should really matter. Now if someone finds love within their race or religion…go for it. If they find it elsewhere…then go for it!

          • “Just because someone is not 100% Jewish or Christian, or etc, does not make them any less of a person or anymore dedicated to their religion”

            If only that were true Mrs. Doyle. For the past 50-80 years, we’ve been finding out, here in the country that you’re proud to call your own, that that is simply not the case, and that the vast majority of Jews who intermarry fail to have any Jewish descendants within two generations. So yes, it is accomplishing just what Hitler desired- the extinction of the Jewish people.

            I think the memorial is a great idea…an in your face reminder that we have the power and duty to not stand idly by and bring an end to the spiritual holocaust of assimilation and intermarriage, TODAY! Maybe it’s a good location too, I’m sure there are plenty of intermarried families nearby.

          • “religious beliefs… should not matter because someone decided hundreds of years ago that it should.”

            What if that Someone is G-d Himself?

          • there is no such thing as not 100% jewish, either you are or not. now religion if you feel you can do as you please its not relgion, its your own social order.

      • Perhaps the shul could have been more sensitive and built either a fenced in sitting area or placed the memorial elsewhere on the property where you have to walk up to it? The in your face on the street aspect is insensitive regardless of the ultimate goal of the memorial. It’s actually counterproductive. This memorial will desensitize people who see it every day and at some point will no longer accomplish anything. Should have been planned better.

    12. Memorials have accomplished nothing. It is precisely these people who have no Yiddishkeit and don’t understand why the Holocaust happened that they keep pushing it into people’s faces. With all the Holocaust museums and memorials, the reason of Eisov sonei l’Yaakov escapes them.
      The ones in my family who have emerged from the flames of the Holocaust broken and beaten and have gone further to establish their lives and set up religious Jewish families who are living testimonts to Jewish survival, would never think of setting up a Holocaust memorial on their front lawn.

    13. I have a question…Would the Rhabi himself or any other member of this synagogue approve of a woman’s marriage or parenting skills be critisized in this manor simply for her own opinion? After all aren’t people allowed to their own opinions? To get that personal is inmature and pathetic. It’s her freedom to feel the way she does. You don’t have to like it but it has nothing to do with her being married to a Jewish man or the type of mother that she is. I cannot believe people would sink this low!

    14. In response to whatajoke #13. You say her marriage to a Jewish man accomplishes Hilter task in taking out the Jewish…Here’s a tidbit of information for ya…The Rhabi himself…his son is married to a Christian woman. Do you want to make the same statement to him and his family?

          • i didnt say anything insulting.the translation is…..one who causes another to go off the path is worse than killing him. now these are plain words to you and you’ll still put your argument, but its to extensive and deep meaning behind it which cant be covered in a few lines..so bottom line in jewish law ,yes, to intermarry is worse than killing one. and as stated in another post, this is not because of others being inferior to jews (see ohr chaim hakodosh yisro why the torah bothers to mention this episode of yisros advise)

    15. Without taking a position on this memorial, I wanted to inform the readers of an incident, which was only recently brought to my attention. A survivor of the Holocaust who regularly speaks to high schools and universities, told me that one day he received a disturbing telephone call from the Mother of a student. She had the unmitigating gall to blame the survivor for her daughter becoming upset, upon hearing of his experiences! If there was ever a medal to be awarded for chutzpah, this would have been it. Incidentally, the person who was complaining was sadly one of our own!

    16. To all those haters and people who have no idea the type of person I am I feel sorry for you that you have to be spiteful to other people to make yourselves feel better. My marriage to my husband is not the issue at hand nor are my parenting skills, but to tell you I have been happily married for 11 years and wouldn’t change a thing.
      The issue here is whether a memorial of this magnitude belongs in a residential neighborhood. The memorial is fine and we don’t have any issue with having a memorial it is the railroad tracks and what they mean. You choose to visit a memorial and are prepared emotionally when you choose to visit. This congregation did not think of the feelings of the neighbors on this street. The congregation chooses when and if they want to visit the memorial, they do not live near, next, or across the street from it. We had that choice taken away from us. All we are asking is that the railroad tracks be taken up and lay down a walkway to the stone wall with the remembrance. Why would want a daily reminder of how millions of people were transported to their deaths sitting right outside your window/door?

    17. The rabbi and his congregation have said that they wanted the neighbors in on the design and sent out letters and never heard back from anyone. They never heard back because there were never any letters sent out to us or any of the neighbors that I have talked too.
      The rabbi says that we close our eyes while evil happens and pretend that it is not there, is ridiculous. He goes home, doesn’t have to look at it day in and day out.
      This rabbi is a man who insults my father in law, who is Jewish and went to this synagogue and had his bar mitzvah at this synagogue, because my father in law disagreed with the railroad tracks being there. He tells my father in law that he doesn’t know G-D. How does a “MAN OF G-D” talk to someone like that for having a different opinion then the rabbi.

    18. It is a reminder that we are thank the Holy Good G-d that we are free now… you are also free to move…just like you are free to say whatever you please. It is a welcomed gift, what this child of survivors gave, and I would love to congratulate her. This is better than all the graffiti vandalized on people’s property. There are memorials with wreaths put down too, doesnt that remind you of the death??? Please lady, explain to your child the freedom we have now, and cherish it….So few of us are around to speak, and advocate for the freedom we have NOW , who knows how long that will last?

    19. I can see both sides, but a memorial to human savagery does NOT belong on a residential street for crying out loud. Why are so many here so obtuse?

    20. Many houses of worship are in residential areas,some have a Crucifixion mounted on a wall,or standing as a statue in front of a church.I would think that the Crucifixion is a much stronger symbol and yet no one is complaining when it’s displayed publicly,or worn as jewelery!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Many houses of worship are in residential areas,some have Crucifixion mounted on outside walls,or standing as statues in front of churches.I would think that the Crucifixion is a much stronger symbol and yet no one is complaining when it’s displayed,or worn as jewelery.How does Janoff ‘s10 year old respond when she sees a Crucifixion ,is she afraid it’s going to happen to her?!
        I would suggest that the Janoffs start getting some education and educate their daughter.
        Did they tell her about 9-11,or they are shielding her from the truth?
        I teach 4th 5th &6th; graders who brought the articles about the Memorial to class and told me that their parents took them to see the Memorial and spoke to them about the evil in the world and how all of us have to try our best to make this world a better place to live in.
        Most of my students have already read “The Diary of Ann Frank”

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