By Bill Bell
Daily News Feature Writer
It took Jerry Jacobs a long, long time to come to terms with the Holocaust. But once he did, he committed himself heart, soul and wallet.
'It was time to tell people'
The result is the Interfaith Concert of Remembrance. Held every year it the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and featuring some of the city's most celebrated talent. The 10th anniversary concert takes place tonight at 8 o'clock, and as always, it's free.
It will feature the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, the Abyssinian Baptist Church choir, baritone Sherrill Milnes and the Cantinum Novem singers performing works by Duke Ellington, Arnold Schoenberg and John Williams.
And as always, it's Jacobs who almost single-handedly pulled it together.
"For two weeks before the concert." Says Jacobs, 61, a textile jobber and owner of Jello Fabrics in the Garment District. " I tell people I'm on vacation. I just say that because I don't want to tell people what I'm really doing.
He recruits the artists, does the fundraising and attends to almost every other detail.
The concert was his idea, a way to commemorate the 30 members of his family who died in the Holocaust, as well as all the other victims.
He spent five years in concentration camps and came to New York in 1947, when he was 17, sponsored by an aunt.
His father was a certified public accountant and played viola in the Lodz Symphony, in Poland. His brother was a violinist. Both died in Nazi camps.
"For many years," Jacobs says, "I was totally uninvolved in anything to do with the Holocaust. When I turned 50, I decided it was time to tell people about it."
The impetus, he says, was meeting composer Ronald Senator, who was directing a chorus of children at a concert at C.W. Post Collage. The particular piece was called "Kaddish for Tetezin," which was dedicated to the victims of the death camps at Terezin, Czechoslovakia.
"That was the trigger," Jacobs says. A couple of years later, the first interfaith concert was held at St. John the Divine. "I liked the idea of using the cathedral," Jacobs says, "because it is in cathedrals that many things are recalled and celebrated."
He also arranged the concerts at St. John's as a way of involving people of other faiths.
In addition to the concert, his Interfaith Committee of Remembrance presents an annual humanitarian award, which this year goes to the Foundation for the Righteous, an organization the supports people who helped save Jews form the Holocaust at the risk of their own lives.