Huntington Town Supervisor Ed Smyth hosted the Town of Huntington’s 11th annual Anne Frank Memorial Ceremony on June 22. 

The Anne Frank Memorial Garden sculpture in Melville by artist Thea Lanzisero.

“We must counter the voices that seek to divide us and fight ignorance with education, which is why the Town honors the memory of Anne Frank every year and, through her voice, all those voices silenced through the Holocaust,” said Supervisor Smyth. “The iron wedding dress sculpture in the Anne Frank Memorial Garden appears vulnerable yet it has withstood the elements, and even acts of vandalism; its endurance represents the strength and fearlessness with which we must fight evil, ignorance and hate.”

Supervisor Smyth was joined by Councilwoman Joan Cergol, Councilman Dr. Dave Bennardo, Councilman Sal Ferro, Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman, Superintendent of Highways Andre Sorrentino, Senator Mario Mattera and Assemblyman Keith Brown at Huntington Town Hall, the rain location for the Anne Frank Memorial Ceremony, where the event streamed live on government access TV channels and on the Town’s website. 

Commander Harry Arlin and members of Jewish War Veterans Post #488 were joined by Commander Gary Glick of the New York State Jewish War Veterans and provided a color guard to present the colors for the ceremony. Rabbi Beth Klafter from Temple Beth David in Commack delivered the invocation; Hazzan (Cantor) Steven Walvick of East Northport Jewish Center performed two vocal musical selections; and Rabbi Yakov Saacks from The Chai Center in Dix Hills delivered the invocation. 

Guest speaker Gail Sheryn Kastenholz, a Huntington Station resident, Second Generation Survivor and Holocaust education advocate spoke about her parents’ experience as survivors of the Holocaust and how that formed her life path as an educator; she currently serves as a docent at the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center in Glen Cove. 

Attendees included Rabbi Lina Zerbarini of Kehillath Shalom Synagogue; members of the Tobay Hadassah in Oyster Bay; members of the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center in Glen Cove; and Town of Huntington Community Development Agency Director Angel Cepeda who is a Board Member of Voices for Truth and Humanity, a Holocaust education advocacy organization.

Refreshments for the ceremony, including those from Hummel Hummel Bakery in East Northport, were donated by Suffolk County Legislator Manuel Esteban. 

“The Holocaust was not that long ago. If Anne Frank were still alive now, she would’ve been celebrating her 93rd birthday this year,” said Councilwoman Cergol. 

“With each passing day it grows more and more critical to preserve the stories of those who managed to survive this mass genocide as well as those who did not. For our sake and for history’s sake, we gather for Anne Frank’s birthday to remember her and to recognize her immense contributions to for understanding our very much flawed human history through her writings but we also gather to affirm our vigilance for standing up for and protecting those in our modern society who suffer from continuing acts of hate. Let our Anne Frank Memorial Garden serve not just as an enduring reminder of what was lost and who is lost but also how much more we might lose if acts of bigotry go unchallenged,” she said.

The Anne Frank Memorial Garden, unveiled by the Town in June 2010 at Arboretum Park in Melville, symbolically captures the journey of Anne Frank’s life. It features a circular pathway that surrounds a garden, which leads to the sculpture of a young girl’s dress. The Memorial Garden serves as tribute to Anne’s legacy of wisdom and genuine belief in the goodness of mankind and human nature, despite the ugliness of war and discrimination.  

See video from the event here.