Dear Friend of Israel,
General Dwight David Eisenhower never forgot the day in 1945 when he first encountered a Nazi death camp.
“It was near the town of Gotha,” he later wrote. “I have never felt able to describe my emotional reactions when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency … I have never at any other time experienced an equal sense of shock.”
Since that time, Holocaust memorials and museums have sprung up across the world. Israel has its own Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), which occurs in the spring. And, in November 2005, the United Nations designated January 27 – the date in 1945 of the liberation of the notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz – as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
While the U.N.’s effort to commemorate the Holocaust is admirable, it is a sad irony that the U.N. has consistently shown a harsh bias against Israel, the state that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust. Despite the oppression, terrorism, and war that is so common in other countries in the Middle East, the U.N. singles out Israel – the region’s lone democracy – for criticism.
And yet, on January 27 I will choose to think not of the folly of the United Nations, but of the millions of innocents murdered by the Nazis, and will bless their memory in prayer. I will think of those people, many of them Christians, who put their lives on the line so that Jewish people might live. And I will think of the dwindling number of survivors who are living in unimaginable poverty.
After the Holocaust, the Jewish people adopted “never again” as their watchword. But it is equally critical to fulfill our moral obligation to the living, many of whom lived through one of the most terrible chapters in history only to find themselves living in poverty and loneliness in their twilight years.
Thus, we at The Fellowship are guided by another motto as well: We remember. We act. As we remember the terrible legacy of the Holocaust, we act to create a legacy of hope that provides Holocaust survivors in Israel and the former Soviet Union with a measure of peace and comfort in their twilight years.
Time is running out. So, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as we honor the memory of the dead, let us also act to provide care and dignity to the living. And let us pray for the day when God will bless His entire world with His most precious gift – the gift of shalom, peace.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President