YOM HASHOAH

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a commemorative program celebrating the power of the human spirit and the enduring faith of those who witnessed and survived the Holocaust. 

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Yom Hashoah 2019

 

The 2019 Yom Hashoah program was held at Temple Israel on May 1 at 6:45 PM, with guest speaker, Dr. Roger Loria. It honored the survivors, liberators, and righteous gentiles who reside in Hampton Roads, as well as the memory of the victims.

 

During the evening program, the Holocaust Commission applauded those making a difference now and for the future, announced and recognized the winners of the Commission’s annual Elie Wiesel Student Writing and Visual Arts Competitions, as well as recipients of the Holocaust Commission’s Educator Awards, and recognized White Rose and Red Rose donors.

 

Dr. Roger Loria

Born in April 1940, Roger’s first brush with danger came three weeks later when Nazis occupied Antwerp, Belgium. His father, Willy, was a Polish national. Having worked in the diamond trade, he hollowed a toothbrush handle and filled it with diamonds – before he was arrested and deported to Birkenau.

 

When Roger’s mother Dina learned that Nazis had come for her sister, brother-in-law, Paul, and 4-year-old niece, subsequently deporting them to Auschwitz, she fled on foot, with only a suitcase, Roger, and the toothbrush. They were caught and interned at Annecy, France. When trucks arrived to take inmates to the trains for deportation “to the East,” she again managed to escape. Following many coincidences and close calls, Roger’s courageous mother finally walked with him into Switzerland, just before his fourth birthday. A Swiss guard on the frontier lifted the barbed wire for them.

 

They lived in Switzerland until World War II ended and returned to Antwerp where Dina searched for their family. Roger remembers living in an attic, furnished only with a crate. Dina found work in a Home for Jewish Children where they lived until 1949, then immigrating to Israel. While living in Israel, Roger served in the army and studied microbiology. In 1964, he continued his studies in America and ultimately settled in Richmond, where he and his wife raised two daughters. Dr. Loria is professor emeritus and researcher at the Medical College of Virginia.