Did you know that this Monday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day? Even at the Federation, some of us were surprised to learn about the existence of this holiday. So, like anyone who wants to learn more about a subject, we looked it up—and we were overjoyed to discover how it came to be a global day of memory for all those who perished during this tragic period in our shared history.
Not to be confused with Yom HaShoah (Israel’s national Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day—the 27th of Nisan on the Jewish calendar), International Holocaust Remembrance Day has been commemorated for only a handful of years, after a United Nations General Assembly voted on its inception in 2005. With a few obvious exceptions, the U.N. could have chosen any date on the calendar to denote this new holiday, so why did they choose January 27th? Bringing a deeper significance to the memorial, January 27th was the date in 1945 that Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and most notorious Nazi death camp, was liberated.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is not only a day for us to remember the victims of the Holocaust, but the idea behind it is to prevent further acts of genocide by educating others about Holocaust history. The United Nations vote, dubbed the General Assembly Resolution 60/7, also rejects any denial of the Holocaust as a historic event and condemns intolerance. Plus, it helps protect and preserve Holocaust sites, from concentration camps to prisons, so that we may never forget. It is not simply a memorial of the 6 million ancestors and relatives we lost as Jews, but of the Gypsies, people with special needs, and other minorities that the Nazi regime deemed unfit for survival.
In addition to whatever private commemorations you may wish to make on Monday, you may also choose to mark the date a day ahead on Sunday, January 26th at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. From 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, they will be commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day with two speakers who are Holocaust survivors, as well as a presentation, dance workshop and the unveiling of their Holocaust Survivor Portrait Exhibit.
Throughout the year, The Jewish Federation is dedicated to making life a little easier for Holocaust survivors in need—especially the estimated 3,000 here in L.A. that are living in poverty or subsisting on very low income. With our partners, our Federation is making vital home care services available for these local survivors, as well as providing assistance with food, medicine and Holocaust reparations so that these frail seniors may live with the dignity they so greatly deserve. This year, we are also partnering with Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries on Six Million Coins, a community-wide initiative to honor the lives of those who perished, while raising funds that will help struggling survivors, both locally and internationally—part of our Federation’s ongoing work caring for Jews in need. As Jews, we have an obligation to do everything we can to help those who have endured so much.