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Reb Lisa's Message

April 19, 2023

Yesterday was Yom HaShaoh, Holocaust Remembrance day. On this day Jewish communities around the world remember the lives lost under the Nazi regime. Indeed the Holocaust is one of the darkest periods in human history. On this day we remember unthinkable acts, unimaginable cruelty, unfathomable numbers.

We often cite the number six million–the number of Jews who died in this dehumanizing massacre. Yet we also know that at least five million more lives were destroyed and discarded, those declared “unwanted”--Roma, Germans with disabilities, Slavic people, communists, socialists, gay men.

As somber and disturbing as this is, we are charged to “Remember and Never Forget.” Remembering is an important Jewish value and a command repeated in the Torah. As a people, we know well the importance of remembering. We take the vow to not forget seriously.

And it is imperative that those outside the Jewish community also remember the horrors of the holocaust. With very few survivors still with us, their living memories, especially for non-Jews, will fade quickly. Alarmingly, there is a rise in Holocaust minimizing and denial. With that, we have seen sharp increases in antisemitic hatred and violence.

According to the Anti Defamation League (ADL), “Antisemitic incidents are surging across the country, yet our research shows that people who learn specifically about the Holocaust in school have lower levels of antisemitic prejudice. Sadly, only 25 states currently mandate Holocaust education.”

While this is a sobering and distressing statistic, it should inspire us to make Holocaust education a priority. In preparation for Yom HaShoah, the ADL did exactly that. They now have an impressive new collection of resources for Holocaust education. Not only must we never forget, we must learn to never forget. To find out more about this bold initiative and support the work of the ADL, check them out at #LearnToNeverForget.

Most importantly, we support each other during Yom HaShoah. The overwhelming content of this day requires us to lean on each other. There is real power in communal strength. May we continue to heal together. May we dare to hope for a world without hatred and senseless violence. Ken Yehi Ratzon. May it be so.

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