Sometimes people let their egos get in the way and move forward with a project just because they thought it up, even when many people have issues with it.
And sometimes they do what Dr. Michael Lozman is doing. Listening.
Dr. Lozman is the Latham orthodontist who envisioned a plan to put a $1.4 million Holocaust memorial on 2 acres in the
Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery off Route 7 in Niskayuna.
The idea was to provide a stark reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust by displaying images of the tools used to kill 6 million people during World War II, with an effect similar to that which people get when they visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The doctor designed a memorial that included barbed-wire fencing to symbolize the fences around the Auschwitz concentration camp, a rail car to simulate those that transported victims to the concentration camps, and a stone wall to symbolize the gas chamber walls.
What was intended to be a unifying memorial to the victims, however, turned out to be a dividing force in the community instead.
Members of the Jewish community and others with an interest in the memorial weren’t consulted beforehand about their visions for the memorial, and members of the public felt compelled to take sides.
Rather than continue to push forward and take his chances with a slightly modified plan, Dr. Lozman has wisely withdrawn the original design.
The project will move forward, but this time the way it should have proceeded in the first place — with input from the Jewish community and other members of the public, and with updates and public focus group sessions at various stages of the design and implementation.
Dr. Lozman’s heart has always been in the right place with this project. His strong belief in sharing the lessons of the Holocaust comes from his own heritage.
According to an article in The Jewish World newspaper, Dr. Lozman’s father emigrated to the U.S. from a small village in Belarus in Eastern Europe.
When Dr. Lozman visited his father’s village, he was moved by the horrible conditions of the Jewish cemeteries there. He went on to spend 16 years of his life working to restore the forgotten cemeteries and raise awareness about the Holocaust.
This memorial is no flight of fancy. No vanity project. It’s part of his life mission.
Now, with the cooperation and input of all interested parties this time around, the community will get the kind of memorial it desires, and one that fulfills Dr. Lozman’s goal of educating the public about the Holocaust and honoring its victims in the most appropriate, effective and respectful way.