Jerome established Kingwood nonprofit the Holocaust Remembrance Association in early 2021 to help sensitize individuals to the atrocities committed during the Holocaust and facilitate healing, reconciliation and education.
Jerome’s parents, who grew up in a small town in Hungary, were Holocaust survivors—a fate she said was not shared by many of the people around them.
“Most of my family [members] were taken to Auschwitz and murdered,” Jerome said. “A couple of my family members—my parents, of course—were hidden by Christians who put their feet to their faith and hid them.”
While Jerome’s parents eventually escaped to America during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, she said she believed they never truly escaped the trauma they endured while fighting for their survival.
Growing up, Jerome said her parents never spoke about their time in Hungary during World War II, establishing a veil of silence she said was common for Holocaust survivors.
“They wanted to forget the past—all of the horrors,” she said. “The stress made it to where [our mother] couldn't take care of us.”
Jerome said she and her siblings were eventually placed in an orphanage, though she noted they were able to spend time with their father after he gained employment with the United Nations. Still, Jerome said her father only spoke about the Holocaust later in his life, and even then, the details were sparse.
According to Jerome, she did not become aware of the extent of her parents' losses until she visited her father’s grave in Sopron, his hometown in Hungary.
“It shocked me because he had this big tombstone, and it had all these names on it,” Jerome said. “All of his brothers, sisters, his father, were ash. There was no burial place, so he created a spot, and it really threw me when I saw the names.”
During her visit to Sopron, Jerome said she participated in a prayer walk that included decedents of both Holocaust survivors and individuals who were in the Nazi regime. While Jerome said the event helped her reconcile many of her past wounds, she realized she was still harboring resentment toward the individuals involved who were of German descent.
“I realized I was all about reconciling with Jews and Christians, but not German Christians,” Jerome said. “I had real prejudice, so I told myself I [have to] get that healed because that's hypocritical.”
Jerome said the experience planted the seed of the Holocaust Remembrance Association in her mind, and she eventually opened the nonprofit in Kingwood in 2021.
The Holocaust Remembrance Association hosts and helps to facilitate a number of March of Remembrance walks each year to honor those who were affected by the Holocaust. Jerome noted one focus of the nonprofit is to raise up the rescuers, like those who sheltered her parents, instead of fixating on the atrocities.
Additionally, Jerome said the nonprofit is preparing for the opening of its Holocaust Garden of Hope—a free outdoor museum located at Kings Harbor near Lake Houston that will focus on the Holocaust experiences of children using paintings, sculptures and interactive displays to deliver its message of hope in a family-friendly format.
Jerome noted the first phase of the garden—which she said she hopes will lead others to visit Holocaust Museum Houston—will be debuted at this year’s March of Remembrance, which will be held in Kingwood on April 23.
To help raise additional funds for the garden, Jerome said the nonprofit is hosting its second annual Beauty for Ashes Luncheon at the Kingwood Country Club on March 31. Individuals interested in attending can purchase tickets for the event on the nonprofit's webpage.
Reflecting on everything that has led to the creation of the Holocaust Remembrance Association, Jerome said she hopes the nonprofit will set an example for the children it engages.
“I want the next generation to see what happened when good people remained silent,” she said. “That's why we're free to the public with this open-air Holocaust museum, and that's why we march. ... We walk because we're saying we're going to actually do something once we see antisemitism or any kind of prejudice, stereotyping, bullying or injustice.”
Holocaust Remembrance Association
804 Russell Palmer Road, Kingwood
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m., closed Monday