Yom Hashoah: A Day to Remember our Past and Look Towards Our Future
By Alexandra Bunzl
This past Sunday, May 1st, was Yom Hashoah, (Holocaust Remembrance Day) the day to remember and honor the lives that were lost during the Holocaust. While in Israel the day is formally observed with a national moment of silence, throughout the rest of the world, the day is observed more informally. For me, while Yom Hashoah is certainly a day to honor our tragic past, it is also a day that begs us to look towards the future and to ask ourselves if we have learned the lessons of the past and if not, what must be done to allow the all too famous saying of “never again” to finally ring true.
Below are two great videos that each honor Yom Hashoah. This first video is an interview with Deborah Lipstadt, Emory University professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies, posted by PBS. On this Yom Hashoah, which also falls on the 50th anniversary of the trial in Jerusalem of Adolph Eichmann, Lipstadt eloquently elaborates on the importance of memory, remembering, and the power of the individual. In many ways, her message resonates perfectly with the goal of The Last Survivor Outreach Campaign as we endeavor to translate the issue of genocide awareness, prevention and response to mass atrocities from elusive and abstract notions to palpable and local actions.
The second video is a mini-documentary of sorts on holocaust survivor Joe Sachs. Michael Pertnoy, one of the Directors of The Last Survivor, met Joe back in 2002 when he traveled to Poland on the March of the Living. Joe was among the Survivors who joined them on the journey. And, while Joe’s personal story unfortunately did not make it into the final cut of The Last Survivor, the Michaels decided to create this video as the first installation of the Survivor Project, an effort to share Survivor Stories and their vision for the future.
Excerpt: “When you begin to hear the story from people, when it becomes personalized, when you hear it in the first person singular, ‘This is my story and this is what happened to me,’ genocide takes on a new meaning. You begin to realize that it didn’t happen to just a group of nameless people, but it happened to individuals, and what happened is their memory, and then the memory gets transmitted to the next generation…That’s the importance of memory—that you take this memory, integrate them into ourselves, internalize them, and act on that in our lives.”
Excerpt: “I look at it this way, if Hitler would get up now and see that I have a family, four generations, past beyond me, he would drop dead again. To me as a survivor, as a holocaust survivor, it is so very important to see that the younger generation gets the significance of what has happened and how these things happen and how we can prevent the acts of violence and genocide in general.”