Far too often we hear of tombstones in Jewish cemeteries being desecrated or vandalized. Yet, here in Buffalo we also have someone who took it upon himself to clean up a very important memorial located in one of our Jewish cemeteries on Pine Ridge Road.
Rick Ruberto cleaned and landscaped the Holocaust Memorial located in the Old B’rith Shalom Cemetery. After stumbling upon a Holocaust Resource Center (HRC) e-newsletter by chance, Rick, who is not Jewish, found out that there was a Holocaust Memorial in Buffalo and immediately sought it out.
“When I saw it for myself, I cried. I didn’t need to go to Europe to visit former camps, which was something I wanted to do…here I stood, in disbelief, in front of 6 million victims, in my own city,” Rick explained. “I was sad for what it stands for, yet I was elated that I had a memorial I could visit. I immediately went to work trimming and cleaning it up, being careful to not disturb any of the stones left on the memorial.”
Born and raised in Buffalo, Rick became interested in the Holocaust when he read the Diary of Anne Frank as a teen. He wrote a letter to Otto Frank and to his amazement, Otto replied. When Rick was in the Netherlands, he brought a small gift to Miep Gies (Gies was one of the Dutch citizens who hid Anne Frank, her family and four other Dutch Jews from the Nazis) only to arrive back home to a thank you note from her. Rick has an impressive Holocaust collection of books and items, including these letters, a Dutch yellow star, prisoner documents, and more.
After reading All But My Life, Rick became friends with Holocaust Survivor Gerda Weissman Klein and was later pen pals with Edith Velmans, Holocaust Survivor and Author of Edith’s Story, as well as Ann Weiss, Holocaust Survivor and Author of The Last Album: From the Ashes of Auschwitz. He shared: “I want to learn as much as I can so that I can continue, in my own small way, the legacy of those that perished and those that survived.”
Rick Ruberto is a true upstander and the HRC is extremely grateful for all he has done and continues to do to honor of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. “What I am doing now is my gift to the victims and the survivors to hopefully continue their legacy as best I can,” Rick concludes. “And I do all of this, not for accolades, but for the 6 million. As long as I live, so will they.”