Courtesy of Lisa Stiller
Ida Rae Cahana, cantor at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, reads names at Pioneer Square May 5.
Courtesy of Lisa Stiller
Ida Rae Cahana, cantor at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, reads names at Pioneer Square May 5.

On May 5, a small, solemn group convened in Pioneer Courthouse Square and took turns reading the names of Jews who died in the Holocaust. It was national Holocaust Remembrance Day. In Portland, 5,000 names were read, a small percentage of the approximately six million Jews who died. The event is sponsored by the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, and The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.

"Remembering the Holocaust is so important to the future," said Joanne Van Ness Menashe, director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. "There are still people who deny that it existed. Reading the names helps remind people that it was real."

The reading also important considering sentiment in the country now, Menashe said. "As communities become stressed and fractured, (people) look for scapegoats,” she explained.

Ida Rae Cahana, cantor at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, was one of the readers. It is important, she said, "Because they have no one to read the names for them."

Candles remained lit throughout the day during the reading of the names.
— Lisa Stiller