Today, January 27, 2015, is the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops during World War II. It is reported that 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, 90% of them were Jewish, and the remainder were prisoners from the rest of occupied Europe and the Soviet Union. The BBC had a very moving report on the anniversary memorial at the camp. New England has been hit by a record breaking blizzard, so the local news channels have been covering that story non-stop. I have not been able to see any national news, so I do not know if this anniversary has been mentioned in American media. I really hope it was, but I would not be surprised if it was not.
After learning about the atrocities the Nazis did to the Jews, and other peoples, the nations of the world cried out; “Never again!” Yet we know that it has happened again, and again! In my times, it has happened to the Cambodians, victims of the Khmer Rouge. It has happened again among the ethnic peoples of the former Yugoslavia. It is happening in Africa, whether among the ethnic tribes, from terrorist groups, or corrupt governments. Genocide continues to happen, and all the world seems to do is wring its hands.
Growing up, I was never aware of the Holocaust, until one day a teacher in my high school, I cannot remember which class, showed us a black and white documentary film on the Holocaust. It was the most powerful film I had ever seen, and I think it still shapes my thinking to this day. In Boston, near Quincy Market, is a memorial to the Holocaust victims, glass columns shaped like the smokestacks of the concentration camps crematoria. On each pane of glass are engraved the identification number tattooed on each prisoner of the camps. When I worked in Boston, I would occasionally walk through the monument, touch the glass, and pray for the victims. I pray that I will not forget, and I will not be silent.
Exalted and hallowed be God’s great name
in the world which God created, according to plan.
May God’s majesty be revealed in the days of our lifetime
and the life of all Israel — speedily, imminently, to which we say Amen.
Blessed be God’s great name to all eternity.
Blessed, praised, honored, exalted, extolled, glorified, adored, and lauded
be the name of the Holy Blessed One, beyond all earthly words and songs of blessing,
praise, and comfort. To which we say Amen.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and all Israel,
to which we say Amen.
May the One who creates harmony on high, bring peace to us and to all Israel.
To which we say Amen.