Monday, 13 April 2015

Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance for All of Us

This Wednesday night - Thursday is Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year marks 70 years since the liberation of the concentration camps. There are fewer survivors from the holocaust as each year goes by and it is up to us to ensure that this Remembrance Day is meaningful and that the next generation places in their hearts never to forget what happened.

Having grown up in England and having lived in Australia for several years, Yom HaShoah is a very poignant day. Relatively large numbers of survivors settled in England in Australia so there are always large communal programs to mark the day. I was very impressed by the quality of the Yom HaShoah programming in Seattle but I was surprised by the relatively low turnouts at the different community events. When I asked people about this, I was told that since there is a very low percentage of holocaust survivors in Seattle, it never took on the same significance in Seattle as it did in other places with larger percentage holocaust survivors.

Sociologically it makes sense that if I am personally involved in a tragedy I will feel more connection to it than if I am not. However, with the passing of years there will come a time when there are no more survivors. There will come a time when there are no children or grandchildren of survivors. Holocaust remembrance must move from personal and family tragedy to a tragedy for our people. I mourn the holocaust, not just for my mother's extended family who were murdered but for all the Jews who had their lives cut short. Ashkenazim, Sephardim, religious, secular, rich and poor alike. Not to mention the many non Jewish people who were also murdered at that time. 

My message for everyone who reads my blog is that Yom HaShoah is a day of national mourning for what happened to us as a people. Therefore the day is relevant and poignant for all of us. I encourage you to attend one of the Holocaust programs happening as well as to light a memorial candle at home on Wednesday evening.

I encourage all of you to visit holocaust websites, to take a few minutes in your life this week to remember those who died. I was particularly moved by this piece on Anne Frank's website. Click here to read.

I will be attending the Holocaust Remembrance program on Sunday April 19th at the JCC and will be reciting kaddish. May all those that died in the holocaust be remembered in our hearts.