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The Six Million

05/06/2016 09:29:14 PM

May6

Friday, May 6th, 2016

 
This year, May 5th marked the annual observance of Yom HaShoa, known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day is designed for us to pause and remember the unspeakable tragedy of the murder of millions of human beings.
If the truth be told, many Jews are unaware that such a day for remembering these victims is part of our Jewish calendar. Fewer stop to reflect or mark it in any way.
I certainly can understand why most of us would rather not be reminded of the most disastrous chapter in the history of our people. The subject is as painful as it is incomprehensible. To invoke the memories of those who perished in the gas chambers, in ovens and in the mass graves, is to raise unanswerable questions about human beings and God.
 
But remembering the Holocaust and the victims of the Holocaust we must. That is the very least we owe them – the immortality which remembrance confers. If we do not remember them, they die a second time. As we remember them, we deny Hitler a posthumous victory.
 
I believe that, it is not for the sake of the 6 million alone that we must remember. You and I, and each human being on this planet, needs to be reminded. I would like to share these lines that were portrayed in the New York Times editorial Page following the Eichmann trial. “What was the objective and justification of the trial? It was and it is, to do all that can be done to eradicate this evil thing out of our civilization . . .a thing so incredibly wicked that it would not have been believable of modern man if it had not actually occurred. This evil, this wickedness began with intolerance and hate in the hearts of a few men. It spread until it almost wrecked the world. Now the obligation is to remember, not in hate, not in the spirit of revenge, but so that this spirit cannot ever flourish again so long as human beings are on earth. And to this end, let us begin, each of us, by looking into our own hearts.”
 
I’m not sure if this type of quote should be included in a blog, however, I strongly feel these are words that should be reprinted periodically. We all need to remember that the Holocaust did not begin with the crematoria and the concentration camps – it began with words and acts of hatred.
 
We Jews are a people who learned how to use our Egyptian bondage so that the agony of slavery was turned into a deepened moral sensitivity that we derived from it. We can also use Auschwitz and Dachau if from it we, the living, derive lessons for living.
 
The genocide of European Jewry succeeded not only because of the state- sanctioned culture of hate, but because of crimes of indifference, because of conspiracies of silence. Indifference and inaction always mean coming down on the side of the victimizer, never on the side of the victim. Indifference in the face of evil is acquiescence with evil itself. I think it was Simon Weisenthal, a Holocaust survivor, who reminds us: “for evil to flourish, it only requires good people to do and say nothing.”
For me, “never again” means to never turn away and remain silent when another human being is being attacked. For me it is about my responsibility to protect the dignity and humanity of all people wherever and whenever I can. It means to always appreciate the danger of silence and the consequence of indifference in the face of evil.
 
What does “never again” mean to you?
Mon, 18 March 2019