The Teaneck town council has approved a proposal that would place a Holocaust memorial in Paul A. Volcker Municipal Green, the park in front of its town hall, along with a memorial to Africans enslaved in America.
This marks the conclusion of three years of discussions with the town over the memorial. Earlier proposals would have placed the memorial in other public parks, and perhaps built a freestanding educational center.
Now, with the space and scope of the memorial set, the hard work of raising money and building it can begin.
The township provided for two 35-foot-square areas to be allocated to the each memorial, with more space designated for possible future memorials to other groups. Overall, the space between Teaneck Road and the municipal building will become a “Garden to Nurture Human Understanding.”
“We will be looking for foundations and organizations who find the concept of a Holocaust memorial as well as a memorial for enslaved Africans on the same township green appealing,” Steve Fox said. Mr. Fox is co-chair of the Teaneck Holocaust Commemoration Committee subcommittee working on the memorial.
Mr. Fox said he hopes to have fundraising materials available for the group’s Yom Hashoah commemoration at Teaneck High on May 4. He said the group hopes to break ground on the project next spring.
First, it will set up an advisory board. “These will be members of the greater community who may be actual survivors, or second or third generation, or other people who feel strongly about what we are doing and can help in our fundraising effort,” he said.
While the memorial will be in Teaneck, the committee sees it as serving as a regional center for remembering the Holocaust, and hopes to attract support from neighboring towns.
“We will be offering individuals the opportunity to memorialize a family member or friend who was killed during the Shoah on the memorial tablets that will line the memorial,” he said. “We will also be looking into Jewish philanthropic organizations who value Holocaust remembrance and education to work with us.”
There is not yet a fundraising target. But the more money is raised, Mr. Fox said, the more the committee can advance its educational mission. “We are looking at this as not just a memorial but as a mini museum. We’re going to have an entire educational process.”
This may take the form of an interactive app that would provide information beyond that given on the panels planned for the memorial. The committee also hopes to arrange with the library to provide an indoor extension of the memorial, “perhaps housing different artifacts or screens for education purposes.”
The group also is considering producing a video featuring interviews with local Holocaust survivors. “Not to do a 90 minute interview like you see in a Spielberg thing, but to ask each one a few questions and put them together in one presentation,” Mr. Fox said.