We must never forget

What kind of human beings allowed the Holocaust to happen? How could we have prevented it? If there is a God, why didn’t He stop it? How can we ensure that such a horror never again occurs?

Fifty-nine years after the end of World War II and the world’s discovery of acts of brutality beyond belief, we continue to ponder questions we may never be able to answer satisfactorily. That is our legacy.

Six million Jews, more than the current Jewish population of either the United States or Israel, were obliterated, along with their European villages, synagogues and cultural institutions.

We as a people have a psychic wound from which we will never fully recover. And Europe, too, has never fully recovered from the loss of some of its thriving communities and great minds — if not to the gas chambers, then to countries that provided a new start.

Just as we study history to ensure that we won’t repeat it, it is our mission as Jews to keep the stories alive — those of the victims, the survivors and the rescuers. That is why we honor them at Yom HaShoah, on Sunday, April 18. And that is why we must continue to tell their stories and ensure that they be heard, particularly now, when most of the survivors and rescuers are nearing the end of their lives.

The Jewish community has not forgotten. On Sunday evening, commemorations will be held throughout the Bay Area — listings can be found at www.jcrc.org/events/YomHaShoah5764.htm#SP. Survivors will speak. Children will sing. And we will light seven candles — six for the 6 million, and another, the candle of hope. For even while we remember, we must ensure that we as a people pull ourselves out of history’s darkest period into the light.

Yet while we have never forgotten, unfortunately too many people have — or they have never been made fully aware of the tragic events. We hear dismissive comments from other groups, like, “I’m tired of hearing about your Holocaust.” And there are still those who deny or minimalize the Shoah, while continuing to scapegoat Jews and others.

Why should others care about our Holocaust? We must tell the stories because we are all on this planet together. When one minority is threatened, we are all endangered — if not as minorities then as human beings. Hitler’s goal was to eliminate not just Jews, but gays, Gypsies, the disabled and other “undesirables.” His master plan epitomizes the dark side of human potential — the potential for racism, victimization, xenophobia. By shining a light on evil — through documentaries, programs in the schools and exhibits — we can work to overcome it.


Debate over Yom HaShoah observance grows

Views: We should remember the Shoah in a way that helps to heal the world

Views: Honor Holocaust victims by fighting injustice everywhere