Choosing Not Only to Remember, But to Respond

Bishop Paul Lanier  |  January 27, 2021

Elderly Holocaust survivor tattoo on arm

Bishop Paul Lanier, The Fellowship’s Chairman of the Board, shares a Christian perspective on events impacting Israel, the U.S., and the world.

On January 27 we honored International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We take time to pause and remember the 6 million Jews who lost their lives during the Holocaust. And, to be honest, the enormity of this truth can be overwhelming.

It’s painful to really take in the reality of what happened to the Jewish people during the Holocaust — the trains, the camps, the experimentation, the “showers,” the ghettos, the deep deprivation and immense suffering. And when I think of the black and white footage I’ve seen of these events, the documentaries or the photos in Holocaust history museums, I often think these scenes look so foreign, so distant. And I try to reassure myself by saying that something like the Holocaust could never happen again.

But then I catch myself.

Because if I choose, instead, to give myself a moment to pause and take in the meaning of what happened, then that means that I’m not turning away — and I find myself wanting to take action to ensure something like this never happens again.

Remembering Isn’t Enough

I remember when The Fellowship’s President and CEO, Yael Eckstein, encouraged us to do more than simply remember. She said it’s important to find a way to take action. This is when my wife and I, as well as our congregation, decided to give a monthly gift for the sake of Holocaust survivors.

It’s so important that we help the precious people who survived. Yet, I’m realizing, even as we protect Jews who face anti-Semitic attitudes and violence — the very same hate that contributed to a horrific event like the Holocaust — it’s important to support The Fellowship’s aliyah program as well. This program helps Jews to return home and live in the safest country for the Jewish people, Israel, where they can live and worship freely.

My Hope for Today

Today, I invite you to go to some platform — maybe a virtual Holocaust museum or service that’s showing a Holocaust documentary — and take a look at the events that happened and the people who we’ve lost. You can even go to The Fellowship’s website to read stories of survivors, people who must live with the painful memories.

So many of you already have such a giving heart and have found it in yourself to give to these precious people in need, and by being a faithful supporter of our ministry, you are reaching out prophetically. We cannot change the past, but we can help provide these survivors with new memories. And I find that so inspiring.

Today, I hope that you and I choose to not only remember, but to faithfully respond.

— Bishop Paul Lanier