Don’t Stand By – International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Profile 1This week marks the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In 2005 the United Nations General Assembly designated the 27 January as a day of commemoration for six million Jews brutally killed by Nazis. Many of us know and participate in the Holocaust Remembrance day at the West Park Cemetery, so what’s the significance about January 27?

January 27, 1945 is the day the Auschwitz concentration camp in modern-day Poland was liberated by the Soviets, nearly eight months before the war officially ended. Unfortunately by the time they arrived though, many of the people that were in camp had been sent out on a death march. When the Soviets arrived at the camp, around 7,000 sick and dying people remained. In the five years it was open, an estimated 1.1 million people were killed at the concentration camp.

This Remembrance Day was designated by the United Nations resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005. This resolution and the International Holocaust Day was an initiative of the State of Israel. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, Silvan Shalom, was the head of the delegation of Israel to the United Nations.

Each year has a theme, including ‘remembering genocides: lessons for the future’ and ‘one person can make a different’.

The 2016 theme is ‘Don’t Stand By’, the idea being that everyone takes personal responsibility for the world we live in.

by Yehuda Amichai translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld

After Auschwitz, no theology:
From the chimneys of the Vatican, white smoke rises —
a sign the cardinals have chosen themselves a Pope.
From the crematoria of Auschwitz, black smoke rises —
a sign the conclave of Gods hasn’t yet chosen
the Chosen People.
After Auschwitz, no theology:
the inmates of extermination bear on their forearms
the telephone numbers of God,
numbers that do not answer
and now are disconnected, one by one.
After Auschwitz, a new theology:
the Jews who died in the Shoah
have now come to be like their God,
who has no likeness of a body and has no body.
They have no likeness of a body and they have no body.

Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat.
Rabbi Julia Margolis        

Impressions from the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust with a special presentation by Professor Dina Porat, that took place in Johannesburg, yesterday, 27.1.16. 

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