Each year I am moved by the JCCWA Holocaust Commemoration. The Perth Jewish community consistently stages a relevant, dignified and thought provoking presentation to mark Yom Hashoa.
Each year I also try hard to relate as best I can to the Shoah. Through genealogical research I have discovered and unraveled the spine chilling impact that the Shoah had on many branches of my family. I can see stories that directly relate to the imprisonment and murder of my relatives. I can view pages of testimony online, and I can only wonder what might have been had an entire generation of European Jewry not been anhililated.
Yet, like so many others, I have been desensitised by the fantasy world of Holocaust theatre. I have never been able to take Holocaust movies with romantic plots and heroism against the odds, let alone the comedy of the Holocaust (be it Hogan’s Hero’s or the black comedy of Inglorius Bastards) and fit it to the paradigm of what the Shoah actually was.
That a civilised world could be consumed by an ostensibly legitimate political system based on a platform of genocide is beyond comprehension. That the scale of manufactured production line death could be the product of humanity is a destruction of faith in humankind. That a Jewish nation can arise so magnificently in the post-Holocaust era, develop itself into a technological and economic powerhouse within the space of a generation, and still be revilled by the repugnant scrouge of anti-Semitism for having the chutzpah to simply exist, is a baffling phenomonena that can be explained in no-less rational terms than the Shoah that preceeded it.
Yom Hashoa grows in significance each year, as those who bear living testimony depart from our midst. Please take the time to mark the occasion, by not missing the opportunity to reflect on the relevance of the Shoah to our contemporary and politically fractured world.
– If you are in Perth, please make an effort to attend this week’s commemoration. If you are out of Perth, please make an effort to mark the occasion in solidarity with your community.
– Obtain a copy of Ellie Weisel’s book “Night” and force yourself to read it.
– In addition to the commemoration, bring awareness to Yom Hashoah by discussing the significance of the Shoah with those around you; your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours.
In the course of discussing the Shoah, make sure to remind those who you engage with that when the Jewish people say “never again” that they mean it. When the Jewish people hear people say that they wish to wipe them from the face of the planet, that they will believe it. Finally, that the 70 year difference between the Jewish world in 1942 and 2012 is that 70 years ago there was no Jewish nation to defend the heritage of our people, but today we have returned to our homeland. It is the only nation we have, we are entitled to our birthright, and we will make it shine as a light unto the nations.
May the memory of the Shoah be forever ingrained on the consciousness of humanity.