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Cleveland's Kol Israel Holocaust Memorial becomes United States' first Holocaust memorial to be given national status

The Kol Israel Holocaust Memorial in Bedford Heights is the first Holocaust memorial in the United States to be given national memorial status.

BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio — When President Joe Biden signed the Omnibus bill that funds the U.S. government for the coming year last week, it made some history for Northeast Ohio.

That's because the bill included an amendment that designates the Kol Israel Foundation (KIF) Holocaust Memorial in Bedford Heights as a national memorial, making it the first Holocaust memorial in the United States to earn national memorial status.

At 11 a.m. on Thursday, the 62-year-old memorial, located in Zion Memorial Park, permanently raised a United States flag, as it renames itself the Kol Israel Holocaust National Memorial.

3News streamed the event, which can be viewed below. 

“I am proud that Kol Israel will now be recognized as a national memorial,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “Kol Israel Memorial Foundation educates Ohioans about the lessons of the Holocaust and preserves the memories of its victims. When we pass that knowledge on to future generations, we recommit ourselves to ensuring it never happens again, and to fighting for a more just and peaceful world.”

“We must never forget the horrors of the Holocaust and the enormous suffering endured by the Jewish people,” added Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). “The Kol Israel Holocaust Memorial was erected six decades ago in Northeast Ohio to honor the victims of the Holocaust and to serve as a lasting reminder of the evil that occurred.  I am pleased that our bipartisan, bicameral legislation to designate Kol Israel a National Memorial has now been signed into law.”

In September, 3News' Carmen Blackwell reported on the efforts to elevate the memorial to national landmark status. The Kol Israel Foundation was formed in 1959 by a group of Holocaust survivors who had settled in Greater Cleveland after World War II.

The Holocaust Monument at Zion Memorial Park was officially dedicated in 1961 as a tribute to those who lost so many family members at the hands of Nazi Germany. The organization believes it to be "the first of its kind in the country.

"It's amazing for our community and communities beyond," Kol Israel Foundation Executive Director Hallie Duchon told 3News in September. "It needs to happen. It's very important so that it's a part of people who never forget about the Holocaust and that it did happen. It will keep the stories alive and the stories of people who went through these atrocities."

RELATED: A Turning Point: A foundation that helped Northeast Ohio Holocaust survivors find home

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