This week we remembered the 6 million souls who were murdered in the Holocaust at our annual commemoration on Yom Hashoah. Before the program we recognized the horrific synagogue shooting in Poway, California.
It is so incredibly important that we not only remember, but that we act and do in the memories of all of the people who have been killed simply for being Jewish. I shared at our program three ways that you can act right now.
Reach out to our local, state and federal elected officials and ask them – implore them – to take a powerful, visible and public stand against antisemitism.
While you are reaching out to these officials, express the urgency of supporting security funding measures for the Jewish community.
Most importantly show up and continue to show up. Attend Shabbat services, spend time at our Jewish institutions, attend Jewish community events. Please join us for Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut next week. Send the message that we are strong and will not be afraid.
Because I believe it is important that we express ourselves in the greater community, I also want to share with you an op-ed that Rina Chessin, Federation President, and I wrote and submitted to the Democrat & Chronicle. We hope it will be published this weekend. We continue to fight antisemitism and hatred every day.
"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference." Elie Weisel, Holocaust survivor.
Thursday, May 2 marked Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on the Jewish calendar. Shoah is the Hebrew word for Holocaust.
This year, Yom Hashoah is particularly meaningful because of the recent synagogue attack in Poway, California only six short months after the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
Between 1933-1945, 6 million innocent people, 2 million of whom were children, were murdered in the Holocaust. We must remember that the Holocaust did not begin with Nazi concentration camps. It began centuries before, in Europe, where antisemitism was a constant scourge on society. Jews were targeted and scapegoated for larger societal problems.
Moreover, the seeds of the Holocaust were planted and cultivated long before the 1930’s through constant rhetoric, stereotyping and vicious propaganda. Propaganda was reinforced through government proclamations, word of mouth, media and political cartoons.
In 2019, we are once again watching a blatant dramatic rise in antisemitism. According to the Anti-Defamation League, in 2017 antisemitic incidents rose more than 60% in the United States and 90% in New York state, over the previous year. For the first time in decades, an antisemitic incident was reported in every state in the union. Today antisemitic rhetoric is once again rampant and can be seen and heard in every echelon of society. It is fueled by all forms of social media. And, just this week, the New York Times published a horribly antisemitic political cartoon.
Holocaust survivors today explain vividly how they feel like we are reliving history. One must never forget the words of philosopher George Santayana, who said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Please, let’s not relive history. We must take a stand. In the words of Elie Weisel, we cannot afford to be indifferent. It is our obligation as a community to fight antisemitism and ALL forms of vicious hatred and bigotry in our society. It is incumbent on every human to understand that while we may have many differences, we have far more in common. We must strive to realize that goodness, kindness, love and understanding must triumph over hatred, bigotry, indifference and intolerance. It is on all of us. Never again.
Shabbat Shalom -
Meredith Dragon, CEO