Reflections on Yom HaShoah

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by Center for Jewish History President and CEO Joel J. Levy

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust
Remembrance Day, is a time to remember, to commemorate, and to honor all those
who died in the Holocaust, as well as the survivors who endured those very dark
and terrible years. Sadly, Jewish history is replete with many earlier
instances of anti-Semitism, but the near annihilation of European Jewry during
the Holocaust is unprecedented. The Hebrew word Shoah, which means catastrophe
or total destruction, aptly describes this genocide. However, at this time of
the year, a different word always comes to my mind as well: Zakhor, the
commandment to remember. Today, we not only remember the lives of those who
suffered and died in the Holocaust, but we also remind ourselves that we must
do everything in our power to ensure that such destruction never occurs again.

The Center for Jewish History
and its five partner organizations preserve the personal belongings—letters,
diaries, and even pictures—of many who perished in the Holocaust, as well as
those who witnessed the destruction of European Jewry. The materials housed in
our building are testament to their lives and to our people’s story. It is my
great honor to lead an organization that makes these pieces available for
everyone to study and learn from.

Yom HaShoah reminds us of the
importance of preserving and recalling our history. As Jews we are obligated to
remember; to never forget.

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