Yesterday, the regular Sunday morning worship at First Methodist Church where we attend, was a Yom Hashoah service. Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day, a somewhat recent addition to the Jewish calendar, is a time to remember the six million Jews and the five million other victims singled out and systematically killed by the Nazis during WW II. It is also a opportunity to remind us never to forget the horror so we won't let it happen again.
The service was deeply moving and thought provoking especially in this time of extreme political tensions in our country and violence against our brothers and sisters all around the globe. A survivor told her painful story of loss. Music provided by the choir and a cantor touched us with it's soulful rhythm and tone. The children were told a story of the courage of Danish citizens who stood together with their Jewish friends. Six candles were lit to remember the lives of millions of innocent men, women, and children who died.
My children's paternal great grandparents died in the Holocaust. Their paternal grandfather told stories about how his father and uncle placed WW I uniforms in the window of their Kosher butcher shop to prove allegiance to Germany. He also told of the mysterious disappearance of the priest who helped his family on Kristallnacht or Night of Broken Glass, November 1938, when Jewish synagogues, businesses, and homes were vandalized or destroyed.
Sometimes we think of this time as far away, long ago, and never to be repeated. Yet, in small and large ways the same injustice happens every day. Anytime we don't have the courage to stand up for someone close to home or far away who has been singled out for abuse, we are reenacting the events that led to the Holocaust.