Remembrance: Services will ensure that Holocaust will never be forgotten

Posted: May 2, 2011 in Analysis
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Starting Sunday, people across the country will take time out of the coming week to remember the Holocaust. Whether it is during a special service at a synagogue or church, at an educational museum program, or in the privacy of their own homes — both those with a direct connection to Adolph Hitler’s genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II and those who only know its atrocities from stories told will reflect upon those horrific events and the lives they took as part of the National Days of Remembrance (May 1-8).

Racine’s Beth Israel Sinai congregation will mark the occasion with a Yom Hashoah (day of the destruction) Service at 1 p.m. on Sunday. All are invited to the service, which will feature a series of readings with an overall message that we must never forget, nor ever again allow such atrocities to happen, said Rabbi Martyn Adelberg of Beth Israel Sinai.

Such shared reflection is important for all of us to prevent history from repeating itself, said the Rev. William Dietzler, of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Parish, who has spoken at Beth Israel Sinai’s Yom Hashoah service in year’s past.

“We as a people have very short memories; I think it is an American syndrome,” said Dietzler. “We tend to forget crisis and disaster, and in forgetting we kind of excuse things. An event like the Holocaust, in which an entire people were singled out for mass destruction in the name of the state — that is something we dare not forget.”

Referring to the words on a statue at a concentration camp site in Germany which, when loosely translated, read “To honor the dead and to warn the living,” Dietzler said we as a society need to be reminded that we are capable of such things. “We like to think that the Holocaust is ancient history and something done at the hands of a madman, but we need to be aware that we have the capability within us to do that.”

Remembering the Holocaust annually also gives us the opportunity to be reminded that many faith traditions call for us to work for freedom, justice and peace in our world — things that seem especially important in the globally-interconnected world we live in today, said the Rev. Michael Mueller of St. Andrew Lutheran Church. “The profound depth of suffering that took place during the Holocaust, and the knowledge that something so horrible could happen again, requires all of us to stop and pay attention, so that we can learn from that experience,” said Mueller who also leads the Racine Interfaith Coalition.

It helps to keep asking questions — questions about what happened, how it happened and how it could happen again, said Jeff Collen, president of Beth Israel Sinai Congregation. Having such awareness and finding ways to use it right now, are why the Days of Remembrance are important, Collen said.

Events since the Holocaust, including the genocide in Cambodia in the 1970s and that in Rwanda in the ’90s, are proof that we need to continue to speak out against all evil, Adelberg said. “It is not a particularly Jewish thing, but Jews feel particularly strongly about it because of what we’ve been through.”

Sunday’s service at Beth Israel Sinai will not only honor the memory of the 6 million Jews who perished during the Holocaust, but all those who risked their lives on behalf of European Jews, the Rabbi said. Adelberg, who has been with Beth Israel Sinai for 10 years, also encourages people to visit one of the Holocaust museums here in the U.S. to gain a better understanding of the genocide and its affects on our world. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (, in Washington, D.C., is a living memorial to the Holocaust, designed to inspire citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, promote human dignity, and prevent genocide. Located among national monuments to freedom on the National Mall, it has been visited by more than 30 million people.

Closer to home, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center ( in Skokie, is within an hour’s drive of Racine. Here visitors can witness the story of the Holocaust through interactive exhibitions and more than 500 artifacts (including a German rail car), documents, photographs and video testimonies.

And what better time to go than in May, which is Jewish American Heritage Month. Throughout May, the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, the National Park Service and other organizations will pay tribute to the generations of Jewish Americans who have helped form the fabric of American history, culture and society. For more on this, go to

Program set Sunday in Kenosha

KENOSHA — A Holocaust Remembrance Day Program will be offered at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Kenosha Public Museum, 5500 First Ave. The community program, sponsored by the Kenosha Clergy Council and the museum, will commemorate those who suffered, those who died and those who fought. A holocaust survivor will be the program’s featured speaker. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. For more information, call (262) 653-4140, or go to


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