Today marks International Holocaust Memorial Day, a worldwide day of remembrance to reflect on the persecution of Jews during the Second World War which resulted in the deaths of six million Jews and 11 million others.
Fergal Keane, a BBC journalist reporting about the day in Great Britain explained, “Holocaust Memorial Day remembers the attempt to exterminate an entire people. But also the devastation of individual lives.”
In an interview with one Holocaust survivor who lost her entire family, Keane asked what her feelings were about this memorial day. She responded, “If you say ‘No, it’s no different to any other day’, I think it is. I’m always glad when it’s over. I don’t know what emotions I have. Sad, especially on days like Holocaust Memorial Day when families are together and I sit there alone.”
This day, like others that mark the significance of loss and trauma, is important. It is important to survivors and descendants of the Holocaust in a similar way that, for many, the memorial drive in Detroit on Belle Isle last summer or the national memorial service held last Tuesday in Washington DC were for millions of us who have lost family members and others to the Coronavirus pandemic. We have all suffered from these losses and from the constraints put on our lives because of the virus. For those of you who pray, and for others comforted by the sentiments of prayers, I include here a prayer used to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2015.
God who knows us,
who never forgets us,
we thank you that, when you
‘remember’ us, you gaze on us in a
way that makes new worlds possible.
Help us to remember the horrors
others have faced and face.
Help us to remember the people we’d rather forget.
Help us to remember
the dark corners of our own lives,
for you transfigure everything
bringing light and life.