Those who make a habit of reading this blog (thank you!) know that I am rarely political and almost never discuss issues that are current. Today I make an exception to that stance as I was deeply moved by a letter that I received yesterday from a fellow congregant and choir member.
The letter was one of her traditional holiday missives in which she delivers thoughts, observations and commitments that are always valuable. This letter was no exception. She poignantly and spiritually pointed out that the time to remember the Holocaust (Shoah) is now. We are experiencing more hate and anti-Semitism than we have seen in many years, both nationally and globally. At the same time, we are steadily losing our Holocaust survivors, those who can and do tell of the horrors experienced by Jews and others during World War II.
Most concerning to me was the confirmation that we are forgetting to teach the Holocaust. Having asked a large group of sixth graders if they were familiar with the Holocaust and other events of World War II, they thought that they had heard of them but that the subjects were not taught as part of their curriculum. By comparison, a friend born in Poland disclosed that her classes there make annual field trips to Auschwitz for the sake of remembering their horrible history.
How do we forget to reference the attempt to torture, humiliate and eradicate a sector of our population? The letter disclosed a study of Millennials that suggests 22% of them have never heard of the Holocaust or are not sure if they have; twice that number of adults have provided the same findings. (Schoen Consulting firm for the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany). From the same study, 41% of adults and 66% of Millennials could not identify Auschwitz, the location of the greatest number of Jewish deaths.
From my standpoint and that of many others, not to remember is to make it possible and convenient for such tragedies to reoccur. Hate crimes are escalating at an astounding rate, again sounding an alarm that we must heighten our awareness and that of successive generations. Those of us who have survived the Holocaust or lost family to it shudder and despair at the possibility of its being ignored or minimized. As my special friend suggested, every effort made toward reminding the world of the Holocaust is vital and fully justifiable. Shalom.