On the day of remembrance

Posted on April 7, 2013

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Sunday April 7, 2013

Today is Yom HaShoah. It means day of the holocaust. The word, “Holocaust” comes from the Greek, meaning a thing entirely consumed by fire.

Today we remember the victims of perhaps the greatest crime of humans against humans. The six million or more Jews and three million others killed by the German Nazis during World War II. Young and old, men and women and children —they were all innocent of any crime except for being in a minority, of being different. They were gassed, burned and turned to ash, shot, experimented on, given lethal injections, beaten to death, or starved or worked to death in concentration camps.

Today, we remember what happens when hate seizes a human heart and turns it hard; what happens when victims cry for help and no one responds; what happens when humanity fails to recognize that those who look different, or live their lives differently from us are nonetheless worthy of compassion and respect.

We remember and honor the survivors, many still living with the marks on their skin and their memories—those who bore witness to what happened.

We who are living and safe must remember and give thanks for the brave Jews and righteous gentiles who risked their own lives to protect Jews and others – homosexuals, Catholics, and dissidents against Nazi Germany. This shows us that in the darkest night of injustice we can light a candle of hope. We can act righteously.

Today, on Yom HaShoah, we call to whatever we find sacred, to whatever we find timeless and we honor human life and human dignity:

Do not murder.

Do not stand idly by the bullying or injury or murder of your classmate or neighbor.

Do not oppress strangers. Speak out when you see them being oppressed. Call attention to hate language, because it is the first step toward mass .

We know that while we do not have the ability to change the past, we can change the future by acting in accordance with our consciences.

We know that while we cannot bring back those people killed by Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot or other tyrants, we can ensure their memories live on and that their deaths were not in vain.

And so, on this Yom HaShoah, we commit ourselves to one simple act: Yizkor, Remember.

May the memory of the victims be bound in our awareness and the collective memory and commemoration of our society. Amen.

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