In speaking with my mother, a Dutch survivor of the Holocaust, I have learned that Holocaust Remembrance Day is like any other day set aside for commemoration of an event. In some ways it’s not really necessary. Every day is, to some extent at least, a day in which the Holocaust is remembered. For those who honor their parents as they should, who really needs Mother’s Day, right?
Maybe not. Yes it is something that sticks with so many of us on a constant basis, but the question we really need to ask is what is the real purpose of a Holocaust Remembrance Day? Especially one sanctioned by the United Nations of all things. An organization that has repeatedly shown disdain for, and prejudice against Israel and the Jewish people has a day in which they are saying everyone should remember the victims of the Holocaust during the reign of Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party. Is this day a day designed to strengthen world morality in order to see to it that no similar atrocity ever happens again? Consequent actions and behaviors by the UN over the years certainly wouldn’t back that up. Is it a satisfaction of guilt for a so-called world organization that does far less than it should to protect innocent people? Or is it part of the farce that is the United Nations image that allows it to continue its worthless existence in which it does more to make corrupt people rich and powerful than it does to care for the weak and persecuted?
Whatever it actually is, if the results of this day set aside to remember does indeed increase awareness somewhere and with someone, who knows what type of positive ripple effect it could have. I wrote a book about what my parents went through in the time of Nazi occupation. Was this something I did as a totally selfless act? The honest answer to that question is no. Any success or achievement I have or will get out of the book certainly satisfies me on a personal level, but that does not negate the fact that nothing is more satisfying to me than inspiring or enlightening someone when it comes to the events that took place. Now magnify this and imagine how many people may never have known that 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis if it were not for a Day of Remembrance. If any of these people are inspired to the point that they actually do something to make a difference in the future, then no matter how disingenuous the formation of a memorial may be, it does some good, and in a world with so much bad, and in a world where hating Jews is becoming more and more in fashion, we need all the help we can get. Even if it comes from a reluctant source.
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As we remember the 6 million Jews murdered by Hitler’s Nazi Germany, we are presented with many important questions. What is the best way to actually remember? What can we do to make sure this never happens again? What is our obligation as fellow Jews and human beings?
In some ways all these questions and more are answered by addressing the last question. I start with an additional question that will likely cause extreme emotion in many reading this, but in my opinion it is a legitimate and fair one. The question is this: How much do we truly care? Do we care on the high-profile days when the world and our friends are watching, or do we care whenever presented with an issue or event that draws comparison or alarm? Do we do anything that goes beyond the things that make us look like we care? Do we cower in fear when presented with opposition? I am putting these questions out into thin air, not directing them at any specific people or group. Only we know the true answer in our hearts.
Do we care when anti-Semitism rears its ugly head or do we shrug it off and say, “There is nothing I can really do about the crazies out there anyway.” Do we make excuses for those who hate us or just hope others solve the problems for us? Do we trust our leaders to do the right thing? Do we support our leaders enough not to stand in their way of protecting us? Maybe most importantly, do we stand united against those who want to make hate a way of life or do we fight amongst ourselves feeding into their very plan? These important questions are only some of the questions I have for the good people out there.
For those who don’t take issue with the murder of 6 million Jews I ask you one basic question. How do you look at yourself in the mirror? How do you justify your very existence on a planet of human beings all born with the same right to live? Do you do it so-called in the name of religion? Do you have the gall to declare that God somehow justifies your viewpoint? Or are you so wrapped up in your own world that you don’t see how any other world even matters, even to the point where their existence holds no meaning?
Sadly, today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, these questions and many more need to be asked. The world we live in today shows signs of being no better than it was 68 years ago when Hitler’s Nazi Germany was defeated. Only the names and places have changed. People still kill others just because of what they are, leaders threaten to wipe out millions, and anti-Semitism is alive and well. So today I hope that we ask ourselves all the questions that need to be asked, but maybe even more importantly ask others these questions, for although the true answers may be disturbing, hiding our heads in the sand will only increase the chances that history repeats itself.
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