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Oradea's Monument to the Deportees is Renovated and Rededicated in a Special Ceremony

The Monument in the courtyard of the Great Orthodox Synagogue erected in 1946 by Jewish survivors of the Holocaust was rededicated in a ceremony on November 9, 2003. Approximately 200 people participated, including Oradean officials and religious leaders, Romania's Jewish Community and representatives of the Lempert Family Foundation, the project's initiator and sponsor.

The commemorative ceremony took place under the religious officiating of Iosif Adler, Chief Cantor of the Coral Temple in Bucharest. Participants included Mr. Pertu Filip, Mayor of Oradea, Dr. Tiberiu Benedek from Bucharest, representing the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania, Mr. Felix Koppelman, President of the Oradea Jewish Community, religious leaders, as well as other City, County and political officials. Many of Oradea's one hundred living survivors were present, as were their children, grandchildren and friends. Members of the local media covered the proceedings and the several newspapers, radio stations and televisions stations carried the story.

Norbert Lempert, founder of the Foundation and member of the Steering Committee, and Dr. Francisco Trilla, advisor to Foundation, traveled to Oradea from the United States to be present at the rededication of the renewed "Old Monument".

The renovation and rededication of the Monument of the Deportees is the first completed project of the Lempert Family Foundation's plans to learn and teach about the legacy of the Jewish Community of Oradea.

After weeks of restoration work on and around the imposing black marble monument, with its original Hebrew inscription, the structure was outfitted with two eternal lights. Four bronze plaques, inscribed with modern translations of the original text, were permanently affixed on stands nearby, telling visitors in four languages (Romanian, Hungarian, Hebrew, and English) about the fate of the Jewish Community of Oradea.

During a service inside the Great Orthodox Synagogue, built in 1891, Mr. Koppelman thanked all who contributed to the project. He spoke about the martyrs and the survivors who built the monument. In their speeches, Mr. Petru Filip and Dr. Benedek, both emphasized the need for the monument and for keeping the memory alive. The Mayor recognized the important contribution of the Jewish community to the development of the city.

Speaking about the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, Norbert Lempert said of the survivors: "as they worked to recover and build new lives, they undertook to commemorate the souls of their loved ones, lost in extermination camps. They erected this Monument. We are here today to remember and honor the ones who came back and the ones who never came back." Referring to the historic Jewish community of the city, he expressed the goal of the Oradea Projects as making "their legacy of true stories, lessons and values of tolerance, understanding and generosity available today, to all, especially to Oradea's children."

Following the rededication ceremony, the local Hakeshet youth choir gave a musical performance. The final event of the morning was a hosted brunch for all participants at the nearby Jewish Community Dining Room.


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