This Sunday April 11 is Yom Hashoa v’Hag’vurah- Holocaust Memorial Day. Really it is the Day of the Martyrs and Heroes . All too often on Yom Hashoa we only mourn but we do not tell the stories of resistance to the Nazi evil. We do not celebrate the survivors of both the camps and the soldiers who liberated them. For they are all heroes of the first degree.
We deeply mourn the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the evil and cruelty of the Nazis. We mourn the way of life that was destroyed. The Jewish community of Europe was nearly ended. And today even as it tries to rebuild itself it is a small shadow of the millions that once lived there. And to boot there is still Anti-Semitism that runs deep throughout Europe. Lithuania is one place where Anti-Semitism has never been addressed. It run throughout the culture. Jews are still seen as foreigners there and in truth are not welcome.
But we must also remember that without the proud soldiers of the Allied Forces the evil Nazi regime would not have been stopped. America might have responded earlier. Certainly members of the Jewish community in the United States and particularly Rabbis Stephen S. Wise made the case to President Roosevelt. But the Allied forces finally did break through and liberate the camps.
We give thanks too those who survived this nightmare. Because their lives have been testimony to this evil that marred the 20th Century. They are a living and walking and breathing reminder of how quickly human beings can turn on one another. Remember Hitler was elected by the people. And then quickly consolidated power and put into place laws that demonized and dehumanized Jews and gay people, Gypsies and Jehovah Witnesses, and all people with physical and mental handicaps.
So don’t forget to light a memorial candle this Saturday evening and all day Sunday as we honor the lives of the living and remember the six million.
And if you are in the Los Angeles area-join us at 5 pm at Fiesta Hall 1200 N. Vista Street, West Hollywood in Plummer Park for a magnificent Yom HaShoa commemoration that will premier a new piece of music based on Elie Wiesel’s “Night”. Cantor Mark Saltzman of Kol Ami will sing the main role. A reception follows the candlelighting at the Babi Yar memorial in the Park. There is no cost to attend this amazing musical Yom HaShoa observance. I hope to see you there.