Yom HaShoah observed with a dedication to the late Irving and Adeline Roth – noted educators – in ceremony at Shelter Rock Jewish Center’s Holocaust Memorial Garden

Yom HaShoah observed with a dedication to the late Irving and Adeline Roth – noted educators – in ceremony at Shelter Rock Jewish Center’s Holocaust Memorial Garden
On Yom HaShoah eve, April 18, Rabbi Martin S. Cohen and Cantor Larry Goller unveil and dedicate the new plaque in Shelter Rock Jewish Center’s Holocaust Memorial Garden & Education Center. The plaque is inscribed, “In loving memory of Adeline and Irving Roth who dedicated their lives to educating children and families about Judaism and the Holocaust.” (Photo courtesy of the Shelter Rock Jewish Center)

Shelter Rock Jewish Center in Roslyn marked Yom HaShoah, the Day of Remembrance for the Holocaust’s victims, by honoring Irving and Adeline Roth in memory.

Irving Roth was an influential figure in American Holocaust education until his death in 2021. The congregation’s leaders tonight unveiled and dedicated a plaque in the lush greenery of the synagogue’s Holocaust Memorial Garden & Education Center on its premises.

Long-time residents of Williston Park, the Roths had been active members of the congregation for decades.

Irving Roth, who was born in then-Czechoslovakia, had survived several Nazi concentration camps from the age of 14 until his liberation by American troops at age 18. Until his death at age 91, he bore the Nazi’s tattoo on his forearm which had branded him as a Jew, as a number rather than a person.

Upon his retirement as an electrical engineer more than two decades ago, he recognized that Long Island, with many Holocaust survivors living here, needed a structure for Holocaust education. He began to give talks to Long Island schools and various groups, and he became the first director of the Holocaust Resource Center at Temple Judea, Roslyn. Last October the Center was renamed for him.

He began to travel ever more widely across the county, in visits to schools, colleges and churches and gave interviews to national media.

He originated at Temple Judea’s Center the innovative Adopt-A-Survivor program that has since been emulated throughout the country, through which a youth learns the story of a single survivor through a face-to-face meeting, and pledges to repeat the story decades into the future as a way to keep the memory fresh.

Irving Roth had become an internationally known figure by his final years, traveling the world. He also published a book about the harrowing experiences he and his older brother had suffered together. His brother was killed just months before the camps were liberated.

Irving Roth’s wife, known as Addie, who predeceased him, was a widely respected early childhood educator who had long directed the Early Childhood Center at Temple Beth Sholom of Roslyn Heights and who also had shaped a similar program at Shelter Rock Jewish Center. She fully supported Irving Roth’s second career of travel, to spread a message about the dark paths of bigotry.

The Roth family was well-represented at Monday evening’s ceremony by sons Robert and Edward, and their spouses Candy and Lynne, and one of Irving and Addie Roth’s many grandchildren.

Speakers included Sandy Pensak, a board member of the synagogue, who warmly recalled the annual visits Irving Roth had made to the Hewlett Elementary School starting when she had been its principal. She cited his warmth and ability to connect to the fifth graders.

Rabbi Martin S. Cohen addressed the garden crowd about the evolution he has seen since the early post-war years, when Holocaust survivors’ stories were suppressed, to the blooming since the 1990s of efforts to capture those stories before the survivors had all passed away.

“Unlike most people, Irving only grew stronger as he aged,” Cohen said. “He never said no to any invitation to speak to young people about the Holocaust, traveling to almost every state of the union. He was a good friend to us all. And he really was the dean of all Holocaust educators, the man on the ground whose teaching technique was simply to tell his story, not holding anything back.”

The garden ceremonies were capped with a rendition in Yiddish by Cantor Larry Goller of a Holocaust-era song. Then everyone went into the synagogue’s sanctuary for the evening prayer service, including the Mourner’s Kaddish, and Rabbi Cohen read excerpts from Irving Roth’s memoir, titled “Bondi’s Brother.”

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