HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY IS EVERY DAY
by Olivier Melnik
Every year, on January 27, the whole world commemorates the horrors of the Holocaust by observing International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This anniversary was established by the United Nations and is different from Yom HaShoah (Day of the Catastrophe) that takes place in Israel in the spring. We live at a time in history when the remaining survivors of the Holocaust are in their late eighties and older, and their number is dwindling down. Soon after World War II, the “NEVER AGAIN” motto arose and has been the ongoing creed for those who want the Holocaust to be remembered. In 2018, the World Jewish Congress initiated a Hashtag campaign asking people to post photos and videos of themselves on all social networks with the hashtag #WeRemember. They are repeating the same campaign in 2019. While the concept is commendable, since the memory of the Holocaust must be preserved at any cost, it might also create a certain shallowness that could diminish the weight of that memory.
Many people post pictures of themselves with a sign showing the hashtag, and they get a feeling of righteous indignation against hatred. They feel like they are part of a broad community of people holding virtual hands to speak up against the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. In a small way, they are. Unfortunately, for most, the remembrance dissipates soon after. We live in a new world where we communicate with few words, symbols, and emojis. Texting is the main way of communication between people. When it comes to communicating in the 21st Century, we want it now, we want it fast, and we want it short…very short!
There is no way to remember the Holocaust in a couple of words, but there are several things one can do to dig deeper into the archives of history and learn about the Jewish catastrophe. They are listed below:
Historians and scholars alike often speak of pre-Holocaust and post-Holocaust Jewish history, and this for a good reason. The Holocaust is the most important marker on the modern timeline of Jewish history. Speaking of it for one day is a good habit for a commemoration of the event, but letting its reality inhabit our memories will help us beyond the ephemerous impact of a hashtag. The Holocaust is tightly woven into the fabric of Jewish history, and reducing it to a hashtag could rip our Jewish heritage beyond repair, not to mention pave the way to completely forget it and even deny it ever happened. We have to do more, and we have to do it more often!
It is our duty as human beings to remember the Holocaust, share its history with the future generations, and speak up against those who deny that it ever took place. The lessons learned from the Holocaust say much about evil and human nature. We need to be reminded every day about the possibility of such a catastrophe to reoccur. Yet, in the midst of all this, our God is all-powerful and all-loving.
“In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah 63:9).