Yom Hashoah – Holocuast Memorial Day in Texas, April 27
This year, the state of Texas intends to celebrate Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Memorial Day on the Jewish calendar – by continuing the Nazi legacy of lethally injecting an innocent human being. The latest victim of this protocol is slated to be Melissa Lucio, who the Lone Star State plans to put down on the evening of April 27, just as our people’s day of mourning begins. You can read all about Melissa’s case here: https://freemelissalucio.org/. Any sane person who peruses this site and watches the film “The State of Texas vs. Melissa” by Sabrina van Tassel – as found on that site – will realize that Melissa is innocent of the charge of killing her beloved daughter Mariah, of blessed memory.
For the past year, I have been honored to be Melissa’s pen pal and friend, and I am grateful to be connected more recently with her son, John. I am in touch with them as I am in touch with dozens of other men and women condemned to state sponsored killing. Why? I am a cantor, former Jewish prison chaplain, third-generation Holocaust survivor and the founder of the group “L’chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty.” We have ~1300 international members, including documentary filmmaker Sabrina van Tassel. Many of us like me have direct family connections to Holocaust victims. We all realize that capital punishment is not the same as the Holocaust or genocide. We also realize that the use of lethal injection directly carries on the Nazi legacy of state-sponsored murder. Lethal injection was first implemented by the Nazis as part of their infamous Aktion T4 Protocol to kill people deemed “unworthy of life.” It’s implementation was overseen by Dr. Carl Brandt, the personal physician of ADOLF HITLER. This fact cannot be denied. This is why I correspond with all the condemned in this nation of ours: to apologize to them for what our society is allowing to be done to them in our names, and to offer them any spiritual support I can provide myself, or by referral. I do this not because I am a tsaddik, nor a saint – I am far from it! I do it because it is the only sane response to such state-sponosred INSANITY and INHUMANITY!
Some may be able to look the other way at the historical reality of the Nazi legacy when it comes to people who have committed terrible crimes. We at L’chaim! shall of course disagree with such individuals. We stand with Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), who famously said of capital punishment; “Death is not the answer.” To quote Weisel further: “With every cell of my being and with every fiber of my memory I oppose the death penalty in all forms. I do not believe any civilized society should be at the service of death. I don’t think it’s human to become an agent of the angel of death.” Amein…Selah!
And yet, when it comes to the killing of innocent people like Melissa Lucio – who also happens to be the first Hispanic woman set to be put down in that state – the alignment with the Nazi legacy of lethal injection of the innocent is complete. I do not believe in coincidences; I have seen too much in my life as a chaplain to think otherwise. I am sure that when Melissa’s state murder date was chosen, it was not intended by Texas to occur on Holocaust Memorial Day. Such is the way of synchronicities – the same way that not one, but TWO American executions took place this year on January 27: International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Matthew Reeves in Alabama and Donald Grant in Oklahoma both were Black men living with severe documented cognitive impairment, just like many of the victims of the Nazis in Aktion T4. As fate would have it, America honored the Nazi legacy of T4 with the state-sponsored killing of two more members of a disabled minority on that very day.
How many more synchronicities will the universe have to provide for us Americans before we awaken to the reality that we are keeping this Nazi legacy alive and strong in our great nation? What will it take for us to realize that we are making Hitler’s spirit proud with every state-sponsored killing, whether by lethal injection, by gas chamber (as various states are building RIGHT NOW), or otherwise?
What will it take for “NEVER AGAIN” to truly mean something in America?
It will take a rededication and commitment to the fundamental human right of LIFE! May we see that reality in this land soon in our day and May we BANISH the Angel of Death from our borders….forever.
Cantor Michael Zoosman
Founder: “L’chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty”(https://www.facebook.com/groups/996205437512710/?ref=share)
Board of Advisors: Death Penalty Action