When remembering is not enough

Tonight and tomorrow, people around the world will remember the millions of victims of the Holocaust and honor their memories. On Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day, we take a moment to think of all the victims — the many children who didn’t have a chance to grow up, the families and communities who were decimated because of hate, and the heroic survivors who rebuilt their lives from the ashes of the death camps.

As we say the words “never again,” we cannot stop there. Remembering is not enough. We must commit to taking action in the face of hate. Honoring those who were mercilessly killed simply because of their religion means stepping up to defeat this same phenomenon whenever and wherever it arises. In pre-war Europe in the late 1930s, few came to defend the defenseless and the persecuted. Neighbors turned against neighbors as the surge of tyranny, the disease of “othering” and the onset of persecution engulfed communities across the continent.

History does not have to repeat itself. Now more than ever, we must not remain silent in the face of senseless hate and bigotry. This year, we lived through a pandemic that involved a physical virus but in some ways, we also endured a wave of infectious hate that spread across large regions, impacting huge numbers of people worldwide. On Yom Hashoah, let us incorporate the lessons of the Holocaust into our communal consciousness. In memory of those who perished and in honor of those who survived, let us resolve to speak out against oppression and racism.

Let us allow the lessons of the past to guide us to a different type of future — one where dehumanizing any group of people is unthinkable and unacceptable; where people of good conscience do not stand by and allow others to suffer. Let us work together to create a world where standing up against hatred and bigotry is the norm, and where respect for humanity is cultivated and passed on to the next generation.

Those who survived the Holocaust and created new lives have shown the world that in the end, hope and faith can win the day. Let us celebrate the priceless legacy of their resilience and pay tribute to the millions who were murdered by committing to fight bigotry and persecution in our own time.

About the Author
Dr. Alan Kadish is president of the Touro College and University System. He is also a renowned cardiologist.
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