Now more than ever, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate our religion and culture – especially in a world where antisemitism still exists. It is our absolute right and duty to recount the horrors that took place during the Holocaust in order to protect future generations. Knowledge is power, and it is crucial for everyone to understand that one should never be punished for a religion or culture that they were born into or choose to follow wholeheartedly.
In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, we vow to never forget. We will never forget the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the 11 million additional innocent victims of the Nazi regime by keeping their stories alive. During the Holocaust, the choice to be brave (no matter how small the action may have seemed) was a matter of life and death. The strength to stand up for what was right when it seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, is the legacy of the survivors. As an organization rooted in Jewish values, the JCHC knows it is our responsibility to acknowledge the history of the Holocaust and recount these stories of survival from our very own senior residents.
A Brief History
While good memories are the ones you don’t want to forget, the bad memories are the ones you MUST never forget – for it is the bad memories that teach lessons and shape us to be better people. The Holocaust must be remembered, to ensure something this horrible can never happen again through people who are supposed to fight for the good of all people. During World War II under Adolf Hitler’s rule in Nazi Germany, the Holocaust was the mass genocide of Jews in Eastern Europe. The scariest part is that this was a systemic, state-sponsored persecution targeting the Jewish population – and anyone who openly opposed it would also be persecuted.
Antisemitism was the foundation of the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler made Jews a scapegoat for everything that was wrong with Germany after WWI, spreading his hatred and persecution of Jews across Eastern Europe. Antisemitism became a core ideology of the Nazi party. It’s important to remember that this process started slowly, and by the time everyone caught on to what was happening – it was too late. It started with Hitler and the Nazi party using elected officials in local governments to purposefully exclude Jews from German society. This slowly evolved into discriminatory laws being passed and organized violence disguised as justice that targeted the Jewish population. This growing radicalization finally culminated in a plan to “solve the Jewish problem” by mass murder. Between 1941 to 1945, Hitler, Nazi Germany and their allies killed nearly two out of three European Jews through brutal living conditions, mass shootings and through specifically designed killing centers famously referred to as “concentration camps” with names like Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau.
While most of these facts are well known to older Jews, we are many generations removed from the events of the Holocaust and our children must learn, remember, and recognize the sacrifices made by our great grandparents. “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” ? Ben Franklin.
How The JCHC Honors Holocaust Survivors
Today, January 27th marks the anniversary of the liberation of European Jews from the Auschwitz concentration camp. The United Nations designated this day to honor the memory of Europe’s Jewish population and others who were held in concentration camps or targeted by the Nazi regime. As this day means so much to us, there was no hesitation to capture the real-life stories of our residents who lived through the Holocaust on film. Their powerful experiences of strength and courage deserve to be heard and remembered, even years from now. To watch their emotional interviews, please follow our Facebook pages as we will be reposting their stories throughout the day.
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How You Can Remember, and Ensure Others Remember
“No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.” ? L. Frank Baum.
Start a conversation. Talk to your non-Jewish friends about what really happened during the Holocaust. More importantly, talk about the dangers of antisemitism, hating someone for what they are or where they come from. As long as we are not hurting anyone, everyone has the right to practice their religious beliefs or cultural values. History can repeat itself, if we do not remember or learn from it.
If you want to start the conversation on a larger scale, you could also repost the interviews from our senior living residents on your Facebook page. When reposting, make sure to use the hashtags: #WeRemember, #NeverForget and #LesterHolocaustRemembranceDay to keep the stories alive and circulating throughout the world. Knowledge is power, and it is up to all of us to use that power for good.