Holocaust Remembrance pushes us toward peace

This weekend we will observe Yom Hashoa, Holocaust Memorial Day.  With every passing day more and more Holocaust survivors die. And more veterans of World War II who were eye witnesses to the camps and liberators of the camps die as well.  This is why it is absolutely imperative to gather to remember and pray for those who were murdered so ruthlessly by the hands of the Nazis be they Jew or Gentile and why it is imperative to seek understanding of the human capacity for evil.  The Holocaust isn’t God’s doing but humanity’s doing.  The Nazi’s filled with a sense of their own super-human power created an environment where cruelty and sadistic behavior reigned unchecked. The fear and terror of their empire and its tentacles of evil kept many good people silenced.  God calls us to confront such evil and to fight it.  And if we cower away in fear we allow that kind of evil to thrive.  

Yom HaShoa reminds us that we can never be silent.  Not here and not anywhere. That is why speaking truth to power is critical. That is why our Congregation walks in the Walk to End Genocide with Jewish World Watch.  

As we see the rise of terrorism and violence rise worldwide, as we see the attacks on Jews, on Gay people (particularly in Africa, as the clash of East and West comes to play out in the Middle East, and Russia threatens Ukraine just as it did parts of Georgia, we must speak up lest more pain and suffering are brought into the world.  

So light a memorial candle on Sunday to commemorate not only the six million Jews and 7 million others who perished at the hands of the Nazis, but bring attention to the many place on our planet where evil is evident.  And then lets do the work of bringing peace.  

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is Yom Hashoa-the day of Remembrance of the Holocaust.  Today we remember those who perished during World War II at the hands of the Nazi criminal war machine.  We remember and honor the heroes and heroines, the liberators and most importantly the survivors. We say kaddish for the millions who were murdered.


Don’t let today go by without remembering our responsibility to NEVER FORGET and Never let it happen again.  Stay vigilant.  Where in the world is genocide happening today?  Congo? Sudan? Darfur? Myanmar?

Gays and Lesbians in the Holocaust

Please read this article about the importance of GLBT presence!  Here is one reason President Obama included in his speech on Holocaust Memorial Day the fact that gays and lesbians were persecuted by the Nazi’s as well.  


See the importance of having the gay and lesbian experience represented in history matters.




Their Blood Cries Out

Parshat Tazria-Metzorah/Yom Hashoa

Leviticus 12:1-15:33

Rabbi Denise L. Eger

This week observed Yom HaShoa, Holocaust Memorial Day.  The blood of 6 million murdered Jews still cries out to us today. Jews who lived throughout Europe and North Africa and the Mediterranean were systematically and cruelly murdered at the hands of the Nazi’s and Axis Forces of World War II.  Can a people ever really recover from such horrors?  The impact on the Jewish People is still being felt.  The wounds and scars are still present from such deep victimization.

Increasingly there are few of the survivors left.  Old age has taken its toll.  That is why it is more incumbent upon us than ever before to observe this day in Jewish life.  To light a yellow candle, to recite the Kaddish for those whose lives were snuffed out in Concentration Camps and Ghettos, in towns and train cars, in the forests of Europe.  We need to say Kaddish for those who starved to death or were gassed or gunned down.  Or those who died of disease that ran rampant during those years as typhus outbreaks infected whole villages. 

Today there are estimated a little over 13 million Jews.  Imagine how strong and healthy are numbers would be if 6 million of us survived and the more than a million Jewish children who perished during those years had grown to have their own children!

And yet we have survived as a people and even thrived despite the hole in our hearts.

Our resilience is in the fabric of our People.  Resilience is the trait we Jews have learned to call upon whenever we have faced adversary. Resilience and Hope are the two ideas that our tradition teach us and help us to reframe our essence through prayer and community! It is the remnant of our people that still connected and made community that stoked the growth and rebuilding of our people.

This week’s Torah portion (as followed in Israel) Tazria-Metzorah is a double portion, two portions together.  It is a Torah portion that speaks to what happens when people, houses, and fabrics have become contaminated with a contagion.  The Torah speaks of a kind of leprosy but it can be mildew, mold, or read even as a spiritual uncleanliness.    The Priest must examine the individual or garment or building and a process and ritual for purification is performed.

So too, the contagion of victimization plagues our people, understandably so.  But these many years later as we have grown and thrived. As the State of Israel was reborn out of the ashes of the Shoa and is a strong nation, and the Jewish community around the world is strong we too need rituals of purification to help us cast away the shame and hurt and dehumanization of those years so that we can fully remember and recall and stand tall for our family and friends who perished. 

May their memory live for a blessing.

Today we rememb…

Today we remember the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust of World War II.   On Monday, My family was present in the California Assembly Chambers for the Holocaust Remembrance Observance. Our Speaker, John Perez presided over a powerful program which honored both survivors of the horrors of the Holocaust and the liberators.  The Speaker’s office funded an amazing film called “Echos of Truth”  Here is a link to the project which was headed by Assembly member Michael Allen and Assembly member Betsy Butler. Many of the survivors interviewed in the film were present on the Assembly floor.   

Thank you to Speaker Perez for spearheading this important California Remembrance.   May the memory of those who perished live in our hearts. May we Never Forget and Never sit silently in the face of such hatred.  Here is the video:

Remembering the Holocaust

Today is Yom Hashoa-Holocaust Memorial Day.

It is hard to confront the reality of the Shoa.  Six million Jews murdered.  Seven million others murdered by the Nazi killing machine.

Gays, Jehovah Witnesses,Roma, the disabled and mentally ill, political prisoners, labor unionists and everyone else who did not fit the so-called Aryan model of perfection.

There are so many people who still think the Holocaust was fabricated.  How wrong they are.  But the eye witnesses to the events are old and dying rapidly.  So the testimonies collected by the University of Southern California Shoa Project are critical to preserving the memories of that gruesome reality. This was a visual history project started by famed producer and director Steven Spielberg.  But in 2005 the Spielberg Visual History Project was turned over to USC for preservation of the thousands of hours of video testimony by survivors and liberators.

You can watch and listen to many of the stories if you click on the link above. Or for click on the link here of the online exhibitions at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

That seems fitting for a day like today.  A day to remember. A day to mourn.  A day for thinking about the human capacity for evil. A day for looking around and wondering whether or not we have learned anything at all from those horror years.

Bosnia, Rwanda.  Sudan. Congo. Cambodia. Kurdistan. Iraq. Liberia.  And just look at what is happening in Libya today.

Our technology enables efficient killing.  But our human nature unchecked will let our fears and hatred and jealousies to rule us.

So today is a day of remembrance and reflection with the sincerest prayer that our reflection will cause us to keep that part of our human nature in check.

May the memories of those who perished in Auschwitz, Treblinka, Dachau, Sobibor, Maidenek, Sajmiste, Ravensbruk,Buchenwald, Chelmo, Warsaw, La Vernet, Mittlebau, Mathausen, Jasenovec, Janowska, Drancy, Flossenberg, Falstad, Kaiserwald, Belzac, Terezin,  Sachsenhausen, Bergen-Belsen and Gross-Rosen be kept alive to remind us of our duties to our fellow human beings.  For the hundreds of thousands of Jews who perished in their towns and villages without ever being sent to a concentration camp we say we remember you.

May your memory inspire us to speak out.

At 4pm today join me and Congregation Kol Ami and the City of West Hollywood for a program of remembrance of the Holocaust  at Plummer Park in West Hollywood.  1200 N. Vista is Fiesta Hall.

I hope to see you there. May the memory of the righteous live for a blessing.