Yesterday was Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. As the grandchild of survivors, this is an incredibly important day for my family. My Nana and Grandfather were survivors who picked themselves up after losing everything (children, parents, siblings, and any sense of safety), moved to the US, raised their family with love (and pain), built businesses, and contributed to making this country even better. My generation is the last to know survivors like my grandparents: to have heard their stories, seen their strength, and felt their struggle.
11 years ago, the Shoah Foundation, who has recorded so many stories of Holocaust survivors, sent my family a set of tapes from an interview my Nana did in 1995. It was such a gift. I uploaded them so her story would never be forgotten. She was there on the day the US Holocaust Memorial Museum opened in 1993 (her story is one of the ones you could experience walking through the museum), and afterward they followed up and asked her to record this piece. The Shoah Foundation has recorded the stories of so many survivors and now has posted them widely online. I urge you to listen with an open heart to their stories and never allow ourselves to forget what happened. This day is not just important for me, my family, or Jews across the world; in a time where there is increasing nationalism, hatred, dehumanization, scapegoating, and violation of other nation’s sovereignty, I urge us all to remember that these same conditions are what led to the massacre of 6 million Jews by the Nazis. Very few people wanted to see such things occur, and yet they stood by in silence, and let horrors happen. And it didn’t keep them safe. More countries were overrun, more people suffered. In the words of Audre Lorde, “Your silence will not protect you.”
It is absolutely time for us to come together, regardless of our differences to stop atrocities, not as some world wide police force, but I hope through discussion, debate, honoring our differences, and the right of our fellow humans to choose autonomously that which is best for them and their families. We need to be the change we want to see, and never forget our collective history.