January 26, 2022
Tomorrow, January 27th, is an important day for Jews, and for the world: International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day in 1945, 77 years ago, the Allies liberated Auschwitz/Birkenau. In 2005, the United Nations designated this day as an International observance. The word International is key here. This is not just a date on the Jewish calendar, this is an observance for the whole world.
As a Jewish community, we commemorate the Holocaust on a different day, Yom HaShaoh, in April, after Passover. Many wonder what the difference is between these two observances? Yom HaShoah is a day where Jews commerorate the horrific losses of the Holocaust. Tomorrow, the world is called to remember and never forget.
It’s important to note the distinction in this often heard phrase, “Remember and Never Forget.” This subtle difference is what makes International Holocaust Remembrance Day profoundly important.
Remembering is a commemoration. By remembering we elevate the souls of the 6 million Jews who died during the Holocaust. Through ritual and prayer, we come together as a Jewish community on Yom Hashoah.
Related, but quite different…
Not forgetting is a call to action for the ENTIRE world. We take responsibility for the atrocities of the past, as a global community, not just a Jewish community. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day we also rededicate ourselves to the ongoing work of fighting against antisemitism and hate in all forms–for it is in an environment where hate and intolerance are permitted to flourish that antisemitism and genocide find a foothold.
On both International Holocaust Remembrance day and Yom HaShoah we Remember. On both days we Vow to never forget. The distinction is that on January 27th, the United Nations holds everyone accountable. It is common on International Holocaust Remembrance day to engage in ongoing education to prevent antisemitism, hatred, and genocide in the future.
We are fortunate to have Professors Carol and Sam Edelman–two incredible teachers and experts in our own community–share their knowledge with us tonight, on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I urge you to join us this evening at 7:00 pm (on Zoom) for their timely and important talk, Reflections On: “Never Forget” and “Never Again.”
The events of the past couple of weeks point to the importance of International Holocaust Remebrance day. Aleinu. It is upon all of us, not just Jews, to learn about the Holocaust, the events that led up to it, and how to identify the kind of hate that leads to unspeakable evil.