My parents lived during WWII and remember vividly the accounts of those who survived the Holocaust. I remember meeting my cousin Madeline, who was hidden by a Polish physician during the war and who arrived in Brooklyn as a young woman. I have spent time with men and women who bear the tattooed reminders of the most horrific chapters of their lives. Yet, I do not think my children have ever met or spent time with a survivor and I know that, if I ever have grandchildren, they will certainly never have the privilege to meet one.
Tomorrow is International Holocaust Remembrance Day: a day set aside for the world to remember the atrocities perpetrated in the name of racial purity and power. This is a day not only to remember Holocaust victims and celebrate the strength and resilience of survivors, but also to consider the forces that led the Nazi regime to its heinous "Final Solution."
What makes a person willing to surrender his or her values to something so ugly and vile? It seems unimaginable that, in the span of several years, so many individuals could be recruited to take part in such an evil effort. Yet it happened - and for Holocaust survivors, it is a palpable and intimate memory.
But how will we remember when our Holocaust survivors are gone?
It is our collective obligation to ensure that future generations not only remember but take to heart the many lessons of this dark period in human history. We would like to believe that people are strong enough to stand for what is moral and just, but we know that that is not often the case. There have been, and there continue to be, too many instances of genocide. Much work remains to be done.
Our community is fortunate to include some wonderful organizations dedicated to keeping memories alive and to teaching current and future generations the necessary lessons to help prevent such tragedies in the future. The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford has established a Holocaust Museum. And Voices of Hope brings together survivors and their descendants to share their stories and help us learn the lessons of history.
You are invited to remember Holocaust victims and honor survivors at a program sponsored by Voices of Hope on Sunday, January 28 from noon to 2:00 p.m. at The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford. Click here to learn more.
May the memory of all who perished be for a blessing.
President and CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford
Photo courtesy of U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum