Masha Pearl

Yom HaShoah: Remembrance and Transmittance

In November 2021, I joined a trip with NY legislators to San Juan Puerto Rico as part of the Somos conference. During the trip, The Blue Card led a remembrance service at a Holocaust memorial titled “In the Shadows of their Absence” which was designed by New York artists Michael Berkowitz and Bonnie Srolovitz.

While many might find it surprising that a Holocaust memorial monument would be located on Constitution Avenue in San Juan, the experience was an important reminder that Holocaust education and remembrance is a universal issue which is not limited to any particular geographic location.

Holocaust memorials are meant to provide the public with a permanent testament about the atrocities of the Nazi Regime which organized the systematic murder of 13 million innocent people.

However, beyond the physical reminder, Holocaust monuments serve as an intergenerational educational resource to learn about the past while stimulating questions regarding current injustices.

This Yom HaShoah, The Blue Card is emphasizing the concept of L’dor V’dor, which translates to From Generation to Generation. Central to the idea of L’dor V’dor is passing down intergenerational life lessons, and traditions.

While The Blue Card’s mission is to support Holocaust Survivors with honor and dignity through financial support, our organization is also committed to ensuring that the valuable perspectives of Holocaust survivors on resilience and humanity are transmitted to the next generation.

With this in mind, The Blue Card created The Simcha Project, an engaging program for B’nei Mitzvah students. Many Bar and Bat Mitzvah students seek to enrich their experience of this milestone event by strengthening their ties to the global Jewish community and by performing tzedakah, an act of charity. The program is especially designed for middle-school students; however, students of all ages, and individuals celebrating a simcha or special occasion, are welcome to participate.

The opportunity to meet with and interview survivors of the Shoah, understand the enduring lessons of this tragic history, and enhance a personal connection to Judaism all make The Simcha Project a truly unforgettable experience.

The challenge for the next generation is not only to pay homage to the memorials of the past, but to transcend the lessons which inspired their creation. Therefore, while monuments provide a permanent physical fixture, our duty as a community is to ensure that the critical life lessons of the last generation of survivors are preserved and retold for generations to come.

Perhaps the poet and Holocaust hero Hannah Senesh best encapsulates the important duality of remembrance and transmittance: “There are stars whose radiance is visible on earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for human kind.”

About the Author
Masha Pearl was named Executive Director of The Blue Card, a national non-profit that has been aiding needy Holocaust survivors since 1934, in January 2013 at the age of 28. As Executive Director, she is responsible for a staff of 28 full/part-time and volunteers and oversees an annual budget of $2.2 million.