Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is when the world remembers the 6 million Jews who perished at the hands of Nazi persecution as well as those who survived during the darkest time in Jewish history. As a survivor, I grew up in a family that lived with the Holocaust 365 days a year. Those wounds remain unhealed.
Despite our collective efforts to move beyond the atrocities of World War II, acts of hatred continue to plague our society. The recent shooting at a Jewish community center outside of Kansas City underscores the importance of educating our youth about tolerance and the perils of hate. In college, I studied the works of Max Lerner who concluded that 90 percent of those who have bias against one minority are biased against all minorities. The only way to protect ourselves against prejudice toward any minority and anti-Semitism in particular is to remember. Philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We cannot allow our history to be forgotten or rewritten. We keep this alive and relevant through education.
The generation of Holocaust survivors is rapidly dwindling. That fact requires that the burden of bearing witness will pass to a new generation that now must take up the responsibility of protecting the basic human principles of acceptance and diversity. Holocaust Remembrance Day is a fitting opportunity to make this responsibility among our highest priorities.
Andrew C. Hall, president,
the American Jewish Committee of South Florida, Miami