As we prepared to send this message, we were shocked and saddened by the horrific act of violence in which at least 7 Israelis were killed as they observed Shabbat at a synagogue in East Jerusalem.
Our hearts are with their families and the community, in grief.
“We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world. And we must do our utmost so that all peoples may enjoy the protection and rights for which the United Nations stands.”
-- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on the second observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2008
Today, January 27, on this anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we honor the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Shoah, and we remember all others who were victims of Nazi persecution and murder. Designated by the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/7 in November of 2005, International Holocaust Remembrance Day was established to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, and to combat Holocaust denial. In this landmark Resolution, the UN suggests that the day be set aside as a day of remembrance and a day of education, so we can learn from our history and work toward a more perfect world.
It is core to our Federation’s mission to ensure that Holocaust survivors in our community receive social services that enable them to age with dignity. These services are made possible by grants from our Annual Campaign that release some $1.8 million in Claims Conference funding, as well as matching grants from KAVOD SHEF and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). Through an innovative partnership with Jewish Family Service of San Diego, this financial support ensures care for over 170 Holocaust survivors who live in Orange County – some 49,000 hours each year – as well as programs and services that strengthen their physical, mental, and social well-being. Providing for Holocaust survivors is part of a national approach spearheaded by JFNA’s Center on Holocaust Survivor Care and Institute on Aging and Trauma, which recently announced an investment of over $5 million in grants over the next two years, to provide a network of services through agencies that support survivors across the country.
It is also core to our mission to strengthen community education on the Holocaust. This year, Federation’s Rose Project is once again partnering with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, UCI Center for Jewish Studies, Chapman University, and California State University Fullerton, in presenting The Holocaust and Lessons for Democracy Community Lecture Series. We invite you to attend our first lecture: America & the Holocaust: Immigration, Isolationism, and Antisemitism on Monday, February 6, 6:30 p.m. at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. The distinguished panel will examine major cultural forces – immigration, isolationism, xenophobia, racism and antisemitism – that influenced Americans’ responses to Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s, while illuminating the complex and painful reality of widespread ambivalence toward victims of the Holocaust. You can register to attend by clicking here.
Caring for our Holocaust survivors, and sharing their stories, is our responsibility – as a Federation and as individuals. We share their stories to commemorate six million lives lost to hate, to honor those who survived, and to educate our community today about the atrocities of the past. Please take a few minutes to experience the story of Jacob, a survivor in our community, here.
We must never forget.
Erik Ludwig, PhD
President & CEO
Jewish Federation of Orange County
If you are looking for educational resources on International Holocaust Remembrance Day you may find these links helpful:
Museum of Tolerance
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
USC Shoah Foundation