International Holocaust Memorial Day

January 27, 2021 in General, Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, Reflections Off the Bimah

Red Cross photo of Jewish children in Terezin concentration camp.

This is the fourth week of the month. For Reflections Off the Bimah, the fourth week features thought leaders from throughout the Jewish world and beyond. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter.

Today is International Holocaust Memorial Day.  January 27 marks the day the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Soviet army in 1945.  76 years later, the echoes of hate are still heard.  News reports have shown radicalized groups in America raising Nazi symbols in protest and new extremist groups wearing shirts with the slogan “6MWE” – 6 Million Wasn’t Enough.  Hate has been allowed into the center of American political life.

Rather than use this space to warn or enrage on this day, I want to share the beautiful memorial which occurred earlier today in the Spanish Synagogue in Prague.  The congregation dates to 1837.  They built this sanctuary in 1868. Its name presumably derives from the style in which it was built, Moorish Revival, popular in the Arabic period of Spanish history.  A restoration was completed in 1998.  As you watch this beautiful concert, picture the thriving community which built this magnificent synagogue.  The Nazis attempted to destroy not only Jews but the entire Jewish People.  Imagine the pews filled with worshippers, people building community, celebrating and mourning in this place.  Before the Shoah, over 92,000 Jews lived in Prague.  Only 15,000 survived with half making aliyah to Israel after WWII.

The human, material, cultural, and spiritual losses of the Shoah are immeasurable.  I invite you to think of them as you listen to the music of The Dolezal Quartet.