Holocaust Remembrance Day event at Pan Pacific Park today

Today's Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration in Pan Pacific Park in the Fairfax district is billed by organizers as the state's largest.

Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations from 2003 to 2008 will be the featured speaker. His speech is expected to focus on "the reality of the issues that face the world today that are similar to what the world faced at the time of the Holocaust,'' according to Richard Mahan, one of
the event's organizers.

"There are some existential threats to the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the Western world from Iran today that are not dissimilar to what faced the Jewish people and the Western world by Nazi Germany,'' Mahan said.

Other scheduled speakers include Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Israeli Consul General Jacob Dayan and Jona Goldrich, chairman of the Los Angeles Holocaust Monument and a Holocaust survivor.

"This is an important time in our history, not only in Jewish history but in the history of the world,'' Dayan said. "Especially today when there are Holocaust deniers everywhere, we have to teach the lessons of the past to our children to make sure that such an atrocity will never happen again.''

The commemoration is scheduled to begin at 1:45 p.m. It will include a candle-lighting ceremony honoring the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Two exhibits will be on display -- "Private Tolkatchev at the Gates of Hell,'' artwork by Zinovii Tolkatchev of the Majdanek and Auschwitz death camps, and "Discovering Hope: Faces of the Holocaust,'' photographs of Holocaust survivors.

The commemoration is annually held at Pan Pacific Park because it is the site of the Los Angeles Holocaust Monument, which features six, 18-foot high column of polished black granite, reminiscent of the crematoria in the concentration camps.

To Villaraigosa, the annual commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day "is not simply a way to honor those who perished.''

"It is also a way to celebrate the courageous actions of many individuals, some of whom we know of and some whose names we will never know,'' Villaraigosa said.

A Holocaust remembrance will also be held in Plummer Park in West Hollywood beginning at 5 p.m., with the premiere of "The Kingdom of Night,'' a music theatre performance based on the thoughts and writings of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, followed by a candlelight
ceremony and a reception.

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