Speak Up to Say “Never Again”
To this day, I still cannot comprehend how one person and some of his fellow countrymen could have carried out acts that decimated not only the Jewish communities of Europe, but also targeted any group of people they deemed unworthy. The countless men, women and children who were systematically murdered for their religious beliefs, cultural practices, mental capacity, physical ability or sexual orientation are remembered today on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Some of the initial images I saw of the atrocities perpetrated by Adolf Hilter and his Nazi party are forever burned into my brain: malnourished men spilling out of wooden barrack bunks, children with a yellow star adorned with the word “Jude” sewn into their clothes, the destruction left after Kristallnacht. As a 12-year–old learning about the Holocaust in school, these images were not my first introduction to the topic, but the terror and heartbreak I experienced then still live within me.
Today, I remember the owners of the suitcases, shoes and eyeglasses on display at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Today, I remember the men and women who never lived to meet their grandchildren and the children who were deprived of the opportunity to become parents. Today, I remember the Polish, Ukranian, Russian, French, German, Austrian, Hungarian, Dutch and other citizens whose land, possessions, livelihoods and lives were so cruelly taken before their time. Today, I remember the survivors who lived this nightmare and have been brave enough to share their stories so that these horrific acts conducted by our fellow human beings are not lost to the abyss of time.
I speak for myself, the Reform Movement and I hope for all citizens of the world when I say “Never again.” Never again should children be ripped from their mothers and fathers; never again should people to targeted for their differences; never again should the extermination of a people be allowed under our watch. Ten years after my first real exposure to the Holocaust, I still cannot rid myself of those images my 12-year-old self witnessed.
Speak up for injustice, speak up for diversity, speak up for decency and tolerance, and speak up for those who had their voice taken. If you do one thing today, I urge you to take a moment, just one moment, to remember the millions of lives lost and think about what you can say or do to make sure this never happens again.