By Rabbi David Hartley Mark
(Summary of Remarks Delivered at the Holocaust Memorial Service at Temple Sholom of Pompano Beach, FL, 4/19/15)
Honorable Mayor, Bishop, Board Members of Temple Sholom, Congregants, and Honored Guests,
Thank you for attending our Holocaust Memorial Service. Our principal speaker, Mr. Morris Dan, is himself a Holocaust Survivor of Auschwitz, and will share with us his experiences. We are also grateful for the participation of the Holocaust Survivors Band, which will play for us later in the program.
We Jews of America, indeed the world, ask ourselves today, “How shall we remember the Holocaust?” Many of us are very concerned that, as the generation of survivors pass away, their descendants and other Americans, indeed people of all nations, will forget this horrific atrocity waged by beasts in human form against innocent human beings. They constantly ask the question, “How shall we remember the Holocaust?”
As a rabbi, as a teacher, I constantly ask myself this question. I teach Judaism on Shabbat and in the evenings, here at Temple Sholom, and I teach college English during the week. I am greatly concerned about it.
I am concerned, because we live in a world where my Black students live in danger, where a person of color in this country is twenty-one times more likely to be shot to death while still in his teenage years, than a white teenager. And I remember the Holocaust by working for the safety of my young students who happen to be Black.
I am concerned, and I remember the Holocaust, by remembering that there are countries in this world where it is easier to buy a rifle in the marketplace than a loaf of bread. And I remember the Holocaust by teaching that this country, this great nation of America that we all love so much, is the Number One Arms Dealer to the World, the #1 Merchant of Death, and that we should stop this manufacturing of Death.
And what about us Jewish people? How should we remember the Holocaust? We read the names, and we say the Memorial Prayers. But we do something else, in this congregation, and in all congregations.
Just yesterday, on Shabbat, we celebrated the 64th Anniversary of two longtime members of this congregation, who were choosing to celebrate their long marriage, their long love affair with one another, with us. We called them and their relatives and friends up to the Torah. We celebrate Jewish Life.That is how we choose to remember the Holocaust.
And there were two little boys here in the congregation, just yesterday. Two little boys, cousins of the family, eight and ten years old. I did not know them, but I learned that they are attending Hebrew School in their own congregation, as Jewish Children ought to do, and have done, for years. And I went up to those two little boys during the Kiddush celebration, with everyone sitting down and eating the delicious kosher deli that the family had provided. And I asked those two little boys,
“What holiday did we just finish celebrating?”
And those boys, without hesitation, answered, “Pesach.”
And I asked them, “And what holiday is coming up next?”
And they told me, sure as could be, “Shavuot.”
That’s how we remember the Holocaust.
And just this past week, sitting there in my office, I listened to a beautiful young girl sitting and singing her haftorah, a young girl I am tutoring for her bat mitzvah. And I tell you, when a Jewish child sings her haftorah in a clear and pure voice, the Lord God Himself, ‘way up there in Heaven, smiles, and an angel is born from that smile.
And when a Jewish child sings in Hebrew, straight out of the Book of the Prophet Zechariah, the Prophet of Remembering, as it happened, “Sing and Rejoice, O’ Daughter of Zion,” that’s how we remember the Holocaust.
And I think about another girl, halfway around the world, in a country called Pakistan, a young girl who was born there, named Malala. And she’s just about the same age, maybe a little bit older, as Anne Frank was when she died. And Malala had a dream—she had the dream that girls should be allowed to go to school, and learn to read. There were evil men in her town, and they didn’t agree, and they tried to kill her; they shot her. But she lived, and she is still working for that dream.
And I support Malala. That is also how we remember the Holocaust.
And as I speak to you from this pulpit, here in God’s Holy House, somewhere on this earth, a Jewish baby is being born. And more than that: other babies are being born.
If you have hope—if you work for the Good, and the Light, and what is right and just and correct and proper in this world—then, you, too, are remembering the Holocaust.
Thank you, and God bless you all.