By Rolene Marks
Tonight we begin to commemorate Yom Hashoa, Holocaust – Martyrs and Heroes Memorial Day. Every year I feel the weight of this day on my soul. I almost welcome it because I am appreciative of the solemn weight that this day carries; and it serves as a reminder that I, like millions of others have taken that most important vow – NEVER AGAIN.
This year, the weight seems to be heavier. I don’t know if it is because we are running out of precious time to gather as many stories from survivors as we can or because we have lost so many to the pandemic. I do know that this year it weighs heavier on my heart because I see the tides of antisemitism rising. Europe is especially worrisome. Acts of violence against Jewish individuals that have even resulted in death; and the shift in realpolitik to the right is extremely alarming. Antisemitism is on the rise in the USA as well and at least 63% of American Jews has reported experiencing it in some iteration over the last year. I write this in gratitude that I am safe and protected in our beloved State of Israel.
Yom Hashoa, Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes day is that one day a year where we specifically remember Jewish victims of the Holocaust. This is different to the UN’s International Holocaust Memorial Day which rightfully recognizes all victims. On this poignant and sad day we take that moment to stop and stand sentinel for the siren that screams its mournful cry all over our beautiful land and pierces the soul, we dedicate 24 hours to education, to remembrance and to bear witness to the experiences that are almost too painful to bear. But bear them we must because now more than ever, it is our responsibility to tell them to the next generation and those that will follow.
Let us not wait for one day in the year to remember them. While Yom Hashoa is a sacred day, I urge everyone to take up the mantle of remembrance every day. Today’s social media platforms make it possible for us all to continue educating, disseminating the truth and educating future generations who speak a new language – the hashtag. When we pause for remembrance, let us be ever conscious why this is so important.
In the hateful gestures of Nazi salutes and imagery – we remember them.
In the calls to boycott, divest and sanction Israel – we remember them.
In the calls to question the rights of Jewish people to return to their ancestral homeland – we remember them.
On the train where “next stop Aushwitz” traumatized travelers on their daily commute – we remember them.
In the rallies where screams of “Jews will not replace us” – we remember them.
In the defacing of graves and holy places – we remember them.
In the unmarked graves that are all over Europe – we remember them.
In the fire bombings and defacing of the synagogues – we remember them.
In the calls to register our property or risk being expelled – we remember them.
In the biased, vitriolic media broadcasts – we remember them.
In the attacks on individuals – we remember them.
In the shootings in community centres and synagogues – we remember them.
In the flagrant denial of our lost 6 million – we remember them.
In the loss of lives to terror attacks – we remember them.
In bearing witness to the genocides that have and continue to happen – we remember them.
In the harassment of our students on campuses – we remember them.
In the venom of social media – we remember them.
In the hurt and pain inflicted on any minority community or anyone “different” – we remember them.
In the medieval and modern day blood libels – we remember them.
In the words that built machines of death – we remember them.
WE REMEMBER THEM
In the lighting of memorial candles – we remember them.
In the lowering of our flag – we remember them.
In the mournful cry of the siren – we remember them.
WE REMEMBER THEM.
In the birth of new generations – we remember them.
In the celebration of our homecoming from exile – we remember them.
In the singing of Hatikvah – we remember them.
In the greening and building of our start up nation – we remember them.
In the proud winning of sporting medals, Nobel prizes, life-saving NGO’s – we remember them
In the ways we are contributing to a better world – we remember them
In reaching out a lifesaving hand to our enemies – we remember them.
In our defense of our country – we remember them.
In the helping of the vulnerable, the displaced, the oppressed – we remember them.
In protecting their health – we remember them.
In bearing witness – we remember them
In the teaching of the next generation – we remember them.
In our unabashed, joyful, defiant celebration of life – we remember them.
In our cries of Am Yisrael Chai! (The people of Israel live) – we remember them.
In our vow NEVER AGAIN – We remember them.
WE WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER THEM.
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