Today is a significant day, on both the world’s calendar and the Jewish calendar: International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day in 1945, the Allies liberated Auschwitz/Birkenau. The UN designated this day as an International observance in 2005.
As a Jewish community, we commemorate the Holocaust on a different day, Yom HaShaoh, in April, after Passover. What is the difference between these two observances? Yom HaShoah is a day where Jews commerorate the horrific losses of the Holocaust. Today, the world is called to remember and never forget.
While remembering and never forgettinging may seem like the same thing, there is a subtle difference that highlights the specific importance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Remembering is a commemoration, where we elevate the memories of the 6 million Jewish lives that were lost. In Jewish community, we observe this annually, on Yom HaShoah, through ritual and prayer.
Not forgetting is a call to action for the entire world. As a global community, we take responsibility for the atrocities of the past. And further, we commit to work tirelessly build a world free of hate and intolerance; for it is only in such an environment that antisemitism and genocide find a foothold.
On both International Holocaust Remembrance day and Yom HaShoah we remember and vow to never forget. The distinction is that today, the UN has charged the world to honor the lives that were lost and to educate to prevent genocide in the future.
I urge you to join us this evening at 7:00 pm for an important talk by Professors Carol and Sam Edelman. They will be speaking about “Lessons On Anti-Semitism From Auschwitz.” Our obligation to never forget requires that we engage with this historical content, as disturbing as it is.
Everyone, not just Jews, must become adept at identifying the kind of hate that created Nazi Germany and led to the extermination of 6 million Jews, and millions of marginalized non-Jews.