For much of the World War II era, entire towns of Jewish people were wiped away by a German leader filled with utter hatred.
"We lost whole generations of people in the Holocaust," said Bob Grossman of York. "We lost families, villages, whole groups of people. There was no one left in their families, no one in their communities to mourn them."
This is why Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, is vital to the Jewish community, Grossman said. Yom HaShoah commemorates the more than 6 million Jews killed by the Adolf Hitler-led Nazis before and during World War II.
The community will observe Yom HaShoah at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 15, at Temple Beth Israel, 2090 Hollywood Drive.
Local residents can help their loved ones and neighbors remember those who died in the Holocaust by displaying lighted Yom HaShoah yellow candles in their windows, said Grossman, who leads the candle program. The candles are free to the public, as the program is sponsored by the United Jewish Community of York.
The candles are available at the Jewish Community Center, 2000 Hollywood Drive in York Township and at Temple Beth Israel and Ohev Sholom Congregation, both at 2090 Hollywood Drive.
"We want people to put (candles) near a window so the whole world will see we are remembering (Holocaust victims), Grossman said.
The Yom HaShoah service's keynote speaker will be Laurel Leff, author of "Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper." Leff is a journalism professor at Northeastern University in Boston.
She said her speech will be based on her book, which was published in 2005. The book examines how the New York Times failed in its coverage of the extermination of Jews from 1939 to 1945, she said.
"I'm Jewish and I grew up in the 1960s and went to Hebrew and (public) schools, and I was taught America didn't know about the Holocaust while it was happening," Leff said.
Downplayed: She said she learned in the 1980s from books detailing Holocaust history that the American press and government did know about the killings of Jews.
For her book, Leff focused on the New York Times' decisions to downplay the Holocaust issue, though its journalists had accurately documented it in a timely fashion. Their reports were buried in the paper, rather than placed on the front page, she said.
"Millions of people are being murdered in the most horrific manner possible, and newspapers didn't think that should be on the front page," Leff said. "The New York Times was the most important newspaper in the country in this time period, and a Jewish family owned it."
Leff said Holocaust news was downplayed to keep the New York Times from being labeled as a Jewish paper. Also, the U.S. government didn't want the pressure or the difficult task of entering the war to rescue the Jewish people, she said.
"Both the government and the press decided mutually and reinforced each other in a decision not to have this be a front-page story, " Leff said.
Leff said she doesn't like to guess how Jewish World War II history would have been different had the U.S. newspapers and government pushed the Holocaust stories to the forefront.
"At that time, many Jewish organizations said if (the U.S. doesn't) do something, there wouldn't be Jews left," she said. "And that almost happened."
If you go: The service for Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, is at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 15, at Temple Beth Israel, 2090 Hollywood Drive in York Township.
To receive free Yom HaShoah candles, call the Jewish Community Center at 843-0918.
For information about the service, call Ohev Sholom Congregation 852-0000 or Temple Beth Israel at 843-2676.
-Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.