Holocaust Memorial Day: Pink Triangles, Yellow Stars, and Hateful Laws

Inside Leadership

Holocaust Memorial Day: Pink Triangles, Yellow Stars, and Hateful Laws

As our world commemorates Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) each year, we remember one of the darkest moments in human history: when hate triumphed, leading to the slaughter of six million Jews. The codification of the Nazi ideology of hate first took the form of discrimination laws during the 1930s, which then led to systematic genocide against our people.

A less well-known part of this dark period is that the Nazis also rounded up gays and lesbians, forcing them to wear pink triangles on their clothes so they could be easily recognized and further humiliated inside the concentration camps.

In 1989, Rabbi Alexander Schindler, then president of the Union for Reform Judaism, brilliantly connected us to the geometry of prejudice in his interpretation of the Star of David:

There is another meaning that we can attach to the Magen David. It is an interpretation that any Jewish child with a crayon can tell you: that the Star of David contains within it the triangle…. For those of us who have been willingly blind to the geometry of Jewish life, who would keep invisible the presence of the triangle within the Shield of David: It is time to complete the outline of our Jewish star.

The Reform Movement has long been leading the way in the fight against homophobia and the work to fully include the LGBTQ community within Jewish life.

Read the rest of this op-ed on eJewishPhilanthropy.


Rabbi Rick Jacobs is the president of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the largest Jewish movement in North America, with almost 850 congregations and nearly 1.5 million members. An innovative thought leader, dynamic visionary, and representative of progressive Judaism, he spent 20 years as the spiritual leader of Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY. Deeply dedicated to global social justice issues, he has led disaster response efforts in Haiti and Darfur. Learn more about Rabbi Rick Jacobs.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

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