From the Desk of the Executive Director

Reflections on History and Solidarity: Summary of Holocaust Remembrance Event Speech


Between the 6 and the 15 of July 1938, an international conference convened in Evian-les-Bains in France to try and find a solution for the Jewish refugees leaving Germany as a consequence of the Nuremberg laws of 1935 which marginalized them and for all intent and purposes made them pariahs in German society. The result of the Evian Conference was, according to a Holocaust historian, to make clear that the world was divided between those countries that wanted their Jews out and those who didn’t want to take them in. Hitler interpreted this result as a green light to do with the Jews as he pleased. In November of that year, a Germany-wide pogrom we came to know as Kristallnacht was implemented against Jewish communities all over Nazi-controlled territory. We know what followed. After years of persecution, internment, and killing, the Nazis decided to liquidate the Warsaw Ghetto. After multiple deportations, when only a remnant of the Jewish population was left in the Ghetto, the Germans sent troops for its final liquidation on April 19, 1943 – Erev Pessach 5703 – this sparked the rebellion of the few who, knowing the chances of defeating the Nazi army were little to none, rose against destiny to save at least a few. Other Ghettos followed in the same desperate fight for survival. Through all this, the world stood by and Jews had no champion among the Nations.

In 1948 all that changed. Israel declared independence and proclaimed its commitment to protect the Jews wherever they might be in danger. It took in many of the survivors of the Nazi genocide; over 1,000,000 Jews were airlifted from the Arab world where they were suffering persecution and pogroms. Many in this audience still remember the Campaign to save Soviet Jews and the rescue operation in Entebbe. The Jews of Ethiopia were brought home.

The irony of all this is that when I was growing up in Argentina the neo-Nazis used to say “Jews go back to your native Judea”. Today, the enemies of the Jewish people are yelling, even at College campuses in our own US of A: “Jews get out of Palestine”. While it may seem that we have come full circle and the world is again divided between those who want their Jews out and those who would not accept them – there is today a great difference. The Jewish State in here to stay, and it is not alone. As Jews living in the greatest and most powerful Democracy in the world, we need to speak up – we need to defend and support the State of Israel in one of its darkest hours; we need to speak up for those who have been kidnapped and demand that they be brought home. We need to publicly express our support for Israel, now more than ever. There is no choice. It is our Moment in History.

On June 2nd, the Jewish community of NEPA will participate, as it does every year, in the Celebrate Israel Parade in NYC. Join us – call the office and RSVP. Generations of Jews are looking at us from the past and the future.



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