Yom HaShoa: Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Seth Diamond, WJCS CEO

Each year, Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is a solemn observance to honor the memory of the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust. This day holds particular significance this year, coming seven months after the devastating attack on October 7th, the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust itself. As Elie Wiesel stated, “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”  

We remember the six million to honor their memory and to acknowledge the unfathomable loss suffered by countless families who were torn apart by the brutality of the Nazis. Those memories remain etched in our hearts, a reminder of the importance of preserving their stories and ensuring history never repeats itself. Yom HaShoah is a solemn reminder of the human capacity for both evil and resilience, urging us to stand up against hatred and intolerance wherever it may arise, reaffirming our commitment to building a world where such atrocities are never allowed to happen again.

WJCS is at the forefront of work to support survivors of the Holocaust. Every day our Jewish programs staff brings joy, support, and comfort to Holocaust survivors, connecting them to Home Care, serving as a crucial resource for families, creating social events, and making sure survivors have the services they need to move forward. In the past seven months, that work has been even more urgent and needed as they console and reassure survivors desperately worried by the news of the Hamas attacks. 

A few weeks ago, you may have seen the obituary of Martin Greenfield, a concentration camp survivor, who grew up to be a tailor to President Obama, Frank Sinatra, Michael Bloomberg, and Lebron James, among others. When Martin was separated from his father on his first day at Auschwitz, his father, who he would never see again, told him, “If you survive, you live for us.” Our Jewish programs staff makes sure the survivors live for those who did not. We continue to draw strength from the resilience of the survivors and are proud of the wonderful work of our WJCS staff in fostering that resilience.

Rabbi Sharon Brous writes that “the Holocaust teaches us that silence is not an option and indifference is not a choice.” Hate and indifference are complicit. The Holocaust shows us clearly the horrors of unchecked hate and the dangers of indifference. Never again will not become a reality on its own. 

We must work together against hate in all its forms and ensure hate will have no victims amongst us. Together let us stand united in solidarity, rejecting hate and intolerance wherever they may arise, and foster a world built on empathy, compassion, belonging, and respect for all.