Why is it important to remember the Shoah (Holocaust)? By Josh Dinner
afterwards we were each given a candle to place in the destroyed crematorium, the same one I had passed walking there. I received my candle and walked over to the crematorium. Lighting my candle from one that was already sitting there, I placed it among all the others; and just at the moment that I put the candle down, the entire days events all came together. This was it, I thought. This was my breaking point. Nothing else the entire day had affected me as strongly as that very moment. I froze for a brief second before I finally took my hand off the candle, my eyes swelling up with tears, I could hardly bring myself to walk away. And in what was a matter of seconds, I walked over to the crematorium, put my candle down, and walked away, all in what felt like an eternity. I headed back toward the tracks to make my way back to the main gate, and as I did, a single tear fell onto my cheek. Six million individual tragedies I had dealt with that day, and I felt guilty and cheated that all I could manage was one tear. I walked alone along the tracks, taking my final looks around the moonlit camp before my final departure, and as I came close to the gate, I turned around and walked backwards, soaking in every image that I could before I finally had to leave. I reached the gate and, putting my hand on it, I stopped. And then I did something that millions were unable to do. I walked out of Birkenau, out of Auschwitz II; I walked out, leaving the camp behind but keeping its memory, along with the memory of those six million murdered human beings, in my heart, never to let myself forget, never to allow something like the Holocaust to ever happen again.
This text was part of a journal entry that I wrote days after I was granted the opportunity to visit Auschwitz. I realized then, more then ever before, that remembering the Holocaust is more than talking about it. Its more than simply saying, Never again. Its more than the long lists of statistics, of facts or numbers. Remembering the Holocaust is about taking action. When we say, Never again, we, as a Jewish people, have a responsibility to follow through with that promise. It is important to keep the Shoah in each of our hearts, because if we dont, who will?
The situation in Darfur, where countless others have already died, serves as a prime example of exactly what we as a people are trying to prevent. The Jewish population has been the most outspoken of any other organized group against the destruction in Darfur. By continuing our efforts to protect and save those people from genocide, we are following through with our words when we say, Never again. As long as we remember the Holocaust and maintain our sense of kehilah, community, as a people united against genocide, we must always be the ones to say, We were there, at Auschwitz, when they killed our families, and were the ones who are trying to keep future peoples from the same fate.
R E L A T E D Q U E S T I O N S
We have Yom HaShoah for remembering the Holocaust, isnt that enough? The truth is it is not enough. Today is Yom HaShoah, a worldwide Jewish day of remembrance for the Holocaust. But just because there is one day set aside specifically for remembering it, does not mean it is enough. I draw a parallel to people who go to services only on Yom Kippur. If youre only going to go to services one day a year, Yom Kippur is the day to go, but its not the only day you can go; there are services every week, but if youre only going to go to one, it might as well be one of the biggest ones. Similarly, remembering the Holocaust is not a once yearly thing. There is a specific night given to it, but that hardly covers our responsibility not only to keep the Shoah in our hearts on Yom HaShoah, but also to keep it in our hearts always.
What exactly is going on in Darfur? The Darfurian conflict is an ongoing armed conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan. It is an enduring fight between the Janjaweed, a militia group recruited from the tribes of the Abbala Rizeigat, and the non-Baggara people of the region. The Sudanese government, while publicly denying that it supports the Janjaweed, has provided money and assistance and has participated in joint attacks with the group, systematically targeting the Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit ethnic groups in Darfur, leaving at least 400,000 dead, and as many as 2.5 million displaced from their homes.
T A K I N G A C T I O N
TALK TALK TALK!!! With regard to the situation in Darfur, the more you talk about what is going, the more people will learn. Getting the word out is the first step in taking action. Put a small piece in your temples newsletter, or hang a flyer at your Sunday school. The most important thing is for people to become educated.
The Last Butterfly When it comes to remembering the Holocaust, there are a number of projects that you can do. One in particular is the Butterfly Project. Over 1,500,000 children died in the Holocaust. There are two Butterfly Project outreach programs to commemorate this loss. At Holocaust Museum Houston, homemade paper butterflies from around the world are being sent to be displayed at the museum. Through the Israel Religious Action Center, people from across the globe are coloring pictures of butterflies on yellow card stock, to be displayed in one of the museums commemorating the Holocaust in Israel. Participating in projects like these is a perfect way to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten.
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In the past months, the president of Iran has publicly stated that the Holocaust never occurred. However, he is not the first, and surely will not be the last, to deny the Holocaust. Anti-semites worldwide have been doing the same for years. In some cases, teachers even refuse to teach about the Holocaust to their classes, claiming it is a waste of class time to teach something that cannot be proven. It is common knowledge that the Holocaust, in fact, did happen, but with the last generation of Holocaust survivors slowly dwindling, what can be done to prevent the uproar of Holocaust deniers that is sure to emerge after that generation is gone?
Josh Dinner is a senior at Southeast Raleigh High School, in Raleigh, NC. He currently serves as the Southern Membership VP for NFTY-MAR and earlier this month, led his sub-region to victory in color wars. He is a member of the Jewish rock group, Jewiblee (www.jewbilee.net). Next year, he is planning to attend Young Judeas Year Course in Israel program and is greatly looking forward to it.