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July 24, 2013 12:00 am

Ohio Will Be First State with Holocaust Memorial on Statehouse Grounds

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The Ohio Statehouse, which will be the first statehouse with a Holocaust memorial on its grounds. Photo: Alexander Smith.

JNS.org Ohio is set to become the first U.S. state with a Holocaust memorial on statehouse grounds. In an 8-1 vote July 18, the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board overseeing the Ohio Statehouse and its grounds approved the memorial’s construction.

Construction is set to start in the fall and is expected to be finished next April.

“We are very pleased that the project is moving forward,” said Joyce Garver Keller, executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities. “The reason why we pushed this quick deadline is because the average age of a Holocaust survivor is the mid to upper 80s. We want as many Ohio survivors and liberators to be able to attend the unveiling.”

Richard Finan, the board’s chair, cast the lone dissenting vote on the advisory board and questioned the constitutionality of the memorial. Later in the meeting, he announced his resignation from the board.

“I don’t think it belongs on state grounds particularly with the Star of David because it is a religious symbol,” Finan said.

Keller said the $2 million Holocaust memorial, designed by Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind, will be an 18-foot structure with a carved Star of David fractured between adjoining bronze panels bearing the etching of an Auschwitz survivor’s story. A canted-stone wall along the 40-foot path leading to the memorial will double as seating. The wall will be engraved with a quote from Avner Shalev memorializing the Holocaust victims. Shalev is chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate in Israel.

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