יום השואה והגבורה
YOM HASHOAH – HOLOCAUST DAY
The duty of memory
We are a People with a long memory for history. In recalling our redemption from slavery in Egypt 3300 years ago, we celebrated the very act of our birth as a Nation. In joy or sadness, many of our holidays and all our memorial days evoke the milestones of our past. In the reconstructed national life of our People, the State of Israel dedicates much reflection and practical effort to preserving our national memory. The founders of the Third Jewish State in the Land of Israel well understood that the memory of our past gives meaning and direction to a people reunited from its wide dispersions in its ancestral land, that memory is the solid basis of our national existence, and the guarantor of our belief in a bright future.
For that reason, only 5 years after its very difficult birth, the fledgling State of Israel in 1953 established Yad Vashem. Since then, the National Holocaust Memorial has always been a Shofar that calls powerfully to the world’s conscience. Continually developed, with its current Museum a marvel of educational design, exceptionalhttp://www.yadvashem.org/ website,and Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, it pours out research and reports at the most exacting and rigorous scholarly standards, and attracts and prepares educators in Israel and from numerous countries. Above all, it is the national depository for the names of Jewish victims who have no one to carry their name after death, and the largest cataloged compendium of the most vile and cruel crime in history, with materials available to anyone who wants to know something of the immense scope of suffering, tragedy and loss. From the very first introductory text it displays, Yad Vashem bluntly instructs us:
“And so, within seven months, I lost my father, my brother, and my mother. I am the only one who survived. This is what the Germans did to us, and these are things that should never be forgotten. On the other hand, we had our revenge: the survivors were able to raise magnificent families – among them myself. This is the revenge and the consolation.” Zvi Kopolovich
“The Holocaust was the murder by Nazi Germany of six million Jews. While the Nazi persecution of the Jews began in 1933, the mass murder was committed during World War II. It took the Germans and their accomplices four and a half years to murder six million Jews. They were at their most efficient from April to November 1942 – 250 days in which they murdered some two and a half million Jews. They never showed any restraint, they slowed down only when they began to run out of Jews to kill, and they stopped only when the Allies defeated them.
There was no escape. The murderers were not content with destroying the communities; they also traced each hidden Jew and hunted down each fugitive. The crime of being a Jew was so great, that every single one had to be put to death – the men, the women, the children; the committed, the disinterested, the apostates; the healthy and creative, the sickly and the lazy – all were meant to suffer and die, with no reprieve, no hope, no possible amnesty, nor chance for alleviation.
Most of the Jews of Europe were dead by 1945. A civilization that had flourished for almost 2,000 years was no more. The survivors – one from a town, two from a host – dazed, emaciated, bereaved beyond measure, gathered the remnants of their vitality and the remaining sparks of their humanity, and rebuilt. They never meted out justice to their tormentors – for what justice could ever be achieved after such a crime? Rather, they turned to rebuilding: new families forever under the shadow of those absent; new life stories, forever warped by the wounds; new communities, forever haunted by the loss.” (*)
Maccabi World Union, its Confederations and Territorial Organizations devote great efforts in training their leaders, educators and members everywhere. The deepening of the Maccabi ideals is possible only through an ongoing teaching/learning process, essential to maintain our national memory and develop an effective commitment to our People and the State of Israel. Today, with 40 reborn Maccabi Territorial Organizations on the European continent where Jewish life was so devastated, and with Maccabi survivors and descendants of survivors worldwide, our Movement’s educational work places the demand of memory as a duty before Jewish people everywhere, and before all the Nations of the world – especially in the context of an era when Islamo-fascists, Neo-Nazis and other anti-Semites of every stripe grotesquely distort the horrendous crime of the Shoah and deny that it ever occurred.
In this hour of pain and immeasurable loss,May God grant that we shall be worthy continuers of the message of life and actionbequeathed to us by the murdered victims and the survivors, multiplying Jewish life everywhere through our decisive action in all the Jewish communities in the world, and in our magnificent center, the State of Israel.
During this Yom HaShoah, may God grant that we shall remember the extraordinary content, flowering creativity and productivity of the individual lives and Jewish communities so brutally uprooted.
May God always protect the State of Israel!
And may we always remember, bless, honor and perpetuate by our deeds the lives of the Six Million, for we are their Living Memorial.
Rabbi Carlos A. Tapiero
Deputy Director-General & Director of Education
Maccabi World Union