|An architect’s rendering of the proposed Holocaust memorial in Teaneck’s Brett Park.|
When advocates for a Holocaust memorial in a Teaneck township park return to the city council later this month, they will bring a list of local supporters of the plan with them.
“The council needs to see there’s strong community support for this,” said Steve Fox, noting that previous discussions have featured a “loud vocal minority against” the memorial, which would be funded by private donors.
The petition, at bit.ly/teaneckmemorial, calls for part of Brett Park to be set aside to “memorialize those who perished in the Holocaust and establish a place for the community to use for reflection and education about the tragedy of genocide and the lessons of tolerance.”
As of Tuesday morning, the petition had more than 150 signatures.
Since their last meeting with city council last summer, the memorial organizers have paid for a survey that clarified that the area of Brett Park on River Road is under the purview of the township and not the adjacent New Bridge Landing Park Commission.
Mr. Fox, 61, has lived in Teaneck for 13 years and in neighboring Bergenfield for 14 years before that. He grew up in Brooklyn. His father had escaped the Warsaw Ghetto and spent two years as a partisan.
“He lost his parents, his sister, her family, and a number of cousins during the war,” Mr. Fox said.
Mr. Fox’s father was active in the Warsaw Ghetto resistance. That was the group that organized New York’s first major Yom Hashoah commemoration. “Growing up, that was part of our DNA, to go every year to the Holocaust memorial,” he said.
For the past five years, Mr. Fox has been a co-chair of Teaneck’s annual Holocaust commemoration. But he doesn’t think that the Holocaust should be remembered just once a year.
That’s why he rejects a proposal made at a council meeting that a Holocaust memorial be placed at the town green near the Teaneck 9/11 memorial.
“If you want something that will have a steady impact, where people can bring school children to reflect, to learn, to discuss, the town green is not accessible,” he said. “You can’t park there.
“We see the memorial as educational. It’s not just to commemorate those who perished. It’s the place where we want the conversation to start.
“We want people to drive by and say, ‘What’s that? Oh, a Holocaust memorial?’ It will begin a discussion of the Holocaust, of racism, of tolerance, of the importance of not allowing something like this to happen again.
“We’re in the largest Jewish community in Bergen county,” Mr. Fox said. “This is the place to do it.”