Since 1981 the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs has commemorated the Shoah with Yellow Candles.
They have reminded us of the importance of remembering. They have shown us that while the number of living survivors dwindles each year, that we are perilously close to having no one left with their own memories, WE are the memories. Our existence as Jews is a living memorial to the Shoah.
The Shoah is in our bones. It is in our DNA. Every living Jew is a reminder of the failure of Nazi Germany and its collaborators throughout Europe.
Today, we must remember. We must see the blood, the hate, and most perilously, we must see how ordinary the violence was and remains.
If only immigration was possible for our relatives.
If only more Germans had stood up against Hitler.
If only the League of Nations had done anything.
If only more Poles and Ukranians hadn’t been ready to hand over or murder their neighbors.
If only Stalin had done something, like welcomed more refugees.
If only Roosevelt had done something, like bombing the tracks to Auschwitz.
If only Churchill had done something, like opening the doors of Mandate Palestine.
And yet, what happens today? Across the world there is violence and unrest, nationalism, fascism, hatred are again rearing their ugly heads. What are we doing? Are we welcoming the stranger? Are we feeding the hungry? Are we staying quiet? Are we speaking out?
I am proud to be Jewish. I am proud to speak of my identity, my religion, my faith, my Gd. I am grateful that others spoke out for me. I am grateful that my ancestors came to the United States to escape persecution and find new opportunities. I am grateful to the FJMC for their work in sharing memories and creating new ones. We must continue to remember and speak out.
Please join us tomorrow night at SUNY Orange in Middletown:
This annual Yom Hashoah Community Commemoration event will feature author and trauma coach Emily Cohen at the Rowley Center for Science and Engineering, April 12 at 7pm.