Who is Commemorated?
Jewish Victims of the Holocaust
On a patch of the open yard to the right of the main entrance to the synagogue, a path leads to a Holocaust monument designed by Chaim Suchman and dedicated in 2001. The memorial consists of two related parts: a sculpted metal figure of a fiddler with a broken violin which faces a more didactic matzevah (gravstone) type monument with the word ZACHOR in Hebrew inscribed within an off-kilter Magen David. Below this is an inscribed map of Europe that shows the location of many major killing sites and includes a short dedicatory inscription, "In Sacred Memory of the Six Million."
Inscription in Hebrew inside Magen David:
Inscription in English above the map:
In Sacred Memory of the Six Million
The base is inscribed in English:
Dedicated by Ben Greenblott in loving memory of
His parents Ellis & Eanny Greenblott and family
The Burlington, Vermont Jewish community is mostly descended from Jews of Lithuania where the Jewish communities from which they emigrated at the turn of the 20th century were destroyed in the Holocaust. The synagogue memorial, however, does not focus on this specific history but is a more general commemoration of all Jewish victims (the Six Million) of the Shoah. The inscribed map on the matzevah-like stele only includes the killing site of Ponary (Vilnius) to represent Lithuania, when in fact Burlington's Jews came from the Kovna (Kaunus) region in the west, where tens of thousands of Jews were also murdered at the Ninth Fort and elsewhere.
Beginning in 2012 the congregation began a project to rescue and move a 1910 synagogue mural from the former Chai Adam Synagogue. This is now installed in the 1950s synagogue vestibule. The mural restoration has occasioned a much broader investigation of the community's history in Lithuania and Vermont. The mural serves as a memorial of both the murdered old-world communities and the history of the new-world immigrants. Interpretation and presentation of the mural are now integrated into Holocaust history programs and school curricula.
Gruber, Samuel. “USA: Holocaust Memorials in American Synagogues,” Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art and Monuments, February 24, 2020., https://samgrubersjewishartmonuments.blogspot.com/2020/02/usa-holocaust-memorials-in-american_24.html (accessed December 13, 2021)
Gruber, Samuel. “USA: Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington - a Fine Modern Synagogue (and the First Ever Designed by a Woman?), Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art and Monuments, December 20, 2013, https://samgrubersjewishartmonuments.blogspot.com/2013/12/usa-ohavi-zedek-synagogue-in-burlington.html (accessed December 13, 2021)