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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Attendees recalling the Allied invasion write final letters in the scroll, amid prayer and song

Jewish residents, community members and guests gathered in Normandy this month to mark the 73rd anniversary of the invasion by Western allies in World War II and to dedicate a new Torah scroll for Jewish soldiers who lost their lives in the course of battle there.

The event, which was sponsored by Chabad centers in the Normandy region, opened with a memorial ceremony in the Canadian cemetery, where many young Jewish soldiers are buried, some identified by name and some who remain anonymous. Local government representatives—including mayors of several surrounding cities, and presidents of memorial and commemoration organizations—came to show their support and respect for the soldiers. Among the throngs of people were older Jews who have been living in Normandy for decades, not having left this region in northwestern France since Allied forces entered the city on their way to liberate occupied Europe.

Tens of thousands of soldiers landed on the Normandy coast to free Europe from the Germans. The invasion, which saw mass casualties, was the beginning of the end of the Nazi regime and the effort to annihilate the Jewish people.

War museums scattered throughout the region attract hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world each year. Missing, however, are details on the thousands of Jewish soldiers who fought to save their brethren in Europe. A series of Chabad Houses in cities along the shores of Normandy plan to establish a museum telling their story.

Rabbi Mordechai Lewin of Beth Habad Caen said: “What cannot be found in the hundreds of museums in the area, the grandchildren of these soldiers will soon find at Chabad.”

Attendees helped write the final letters in the scroll in memory of the fallen Jewish soldiers.

The crowd—many of whom have family members buried there, and visit the site every year and remain in touch with the local Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries—also sang a powerful rendition of “Ani Ma’amin” (“I Believe”) in a German bunker intact from the war. Menachem Mendel Alush, who came from Israel for the occasion, accompanied on violin. Kaddish and the “El Maleh Rahamim” prayer were recited by the chief rabbi of the region, Rabbi Meir Malka.

The bunker at Point du Hoc, 30 meters above sea level, is located between the beachhead of Utah in the west and the beachhead of Omaha in the east. During the invasion, the German positions on the cliff were eventually taken over by an elite U.S. Army unit after a brutal battle.

The event, which concluded with dinner, was sponsored by Rabbi Mordechai and Zlata Lewin, co-directors of Beth Habad Caen; Rabbi Dov and Geula Lewin, co-directors of Beth Habad Loubavitch Le Havre; Rabbi Shmuel and Chava Lewin of Beth Habad Deauville; and Rabbi Yossef Lewin and Rabbi Eliezer Nisilevitch, veteran educators at the Chne-Or Chabad Jewish Day School in the city of Aubervilliers.

By: Chabad Staff