Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Invocation for the Colorado House of Representatives - Yom Ha Shoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day

Invocation for the Colorado House of Representatives
Holocaust Memorial Day
April 16, 2015
Rabbi Joseph R. Black
Temple Emanuel – Denver, CO

Our God and God of compassion,
This morning we stand – not merely in prayer – but in remembrance.
We remember the more than 13,000,000 souls destroyed in the nightmare of the Shoah – the Nazi Holocaust.  Among those innocents exterminated by the Nazis were:
  • ·        Intellectuals
  • ·        Communists
  • ·        Socialists
  • ·        Catholics
  • ·        The Mentally and Physically infirm
  • ·        Gypsies/Roma
  • ·        Gays and Lesbians

·      And, of course – 6 million Jews – of whom 1.5 million were children.

These numbers are not new.  I have lived with them all of my life.
My mother was born in Leipzig, Germany.  She lived through Kristallnacht – the night of broken glass that took place on November 9th, 1938.  She and her parents were able to escape to America and begin new lives here – but the shadows of that night and the months and years that followed, never really disappeared from her consciousness.  That she lived and so many others died created a struggled that she has carried with her all of her life.

This year we commemorate not only the tragedy of the Shoah, but also the 70h anniversary of the liberation of the death and Concentration camps created by the Nazi War machine.  70 years ago, the world came face to face with the depths of humanity’s potential to combine technology and brutality and create the machinery of death.  

Auschwitz
Birkenau
Bergen Belzen
Dachau
Treblinka 

....these  and so many other names are forever etched into the nightmares of history – these places of pure evil that taught us the depths to which human beings will descend in order to deny the Divine Image implanted within each of us….

In trying to understand the enormity of evil represented by the dark period of the Shoah we must accept the fact that in some cases there can be no understanding.  To state that one and a half million children died for a reason is blasphemy.  In a world where we strive to see God’s presence, the reality of evil can eclipse even the brightest flame of holiness.

Our task, in remembering those precious souls who perished, must be to strengthen our resolve to call out and combat evil wherever and whenever it arises. When we are silent, we are complicit.

Elie Weisel – the great writer and teacher wrote:

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference." 

When we turn our backs to the ugliness in our world – we are desecrating God’s presence in our midst.  Let us remember that with the holiness implanted within us comes the responsibility to shine a light on both good and evil – wherever it may find itself.

I now will chant the El Malei Rachamim – the prayer of remembrance for  those who perished.

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