We must celebrate the lives and gifts of our Holocaust survivors | Opinion – NorthJersey.com

Posted By on June 11, 2021

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, Special to the USA TODAY Network Published 4:01 a.m. ET June 11, 2021

Much of my Jewish life has been shaped by the teachings brought down from Mount Sinai and the memories instilled from Auschwitz. I have followed laws, kept traditions and been trained to remember the martyrdom of those in Europe who died for their beliefs.

My childhood is filled with memories of older men and women who made the synagogue their second home. These people spoke English but with a strong accent and knew the prayers by heart. As a young kid running around the Temple with my Matchbox cars in hand, these people would stop me with a small tear in their eye, say something to me in Yiddish that I did not understand and then extend their hand to offer me some candy. When they did, I could see in the outstretched, wrinkled skin of their forearms the pale-blue numbers tattooed upon them which told a nightmare of a story that we would never comprehend.

The words '#WeRemember' are displayed at the facade of the Austrian Parliament at the Hofburg palace in support of the campaign for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Vienna, Austria, Jan. 27, 2021. The anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz is on Jan. 27, marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Photo: Ronald Zak, AP)

Whether in my Jewish day school, at my synagogue or swimming laps at the Jewish Community Center, our Jewish world was constantly surrounded by a smattering of Survivors. That is a dwindling population that will be no more than a memory for our childrens generation.

Like many of you, I have lit a candle on Yom Hashoa Holocaust Memorial Day and I have participated in International Holocaust Day and spoken about both from my pulpit. One area that we collectively can devote more attention and recognition is towards the courage, heroism and resilience of Holocaust survivors in our world.

Jonathan Ornstein, the Director of the JCC in Krakow ideated Holocaust Survivor Day and has created the vision and momentum to mark a time on the calendar where communities across the globe can pause and properly acknowledge the gift that Shoah Survivors have been to our Jewish world. The day ofJune 26 was chosen (it ison June 24this year becauseJune 26is the fast and day of memory, the 17thof Tammuz) because that is the birthday of Marian Turksi, a Shoah survivor who lost all of his family in the camps. After the war, Turski settled in Warsaw and used his pen to fight communism and used his feet to march for equity in all four corners of the earth. Turski is 94 years young and a beautiful representative of this special endeavor.

I ask you to consider one or all of the following ways you can be a part of this new moment in time and this hallowed experience of honoring survivors of the Holocaust:

I look forward to marking this day on the calendar for years to come and celebrating the lives and accomplishments of the Shoah Survivors who shaped our collective world for the better.

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, which is making preparations to safely open to small prayer quorums in the coming weeks.(Photo: Temple Emanu-El)

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner is the Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Closter and a Committee Member of the JCC in Krakow dedicated to Holocaust Survivors Day. He has been to Poland sixteen times and has his next mission planned for October 2021.

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We must celebrate the lives and gifts of our Holocaust survivors | Opinion - NorthJersey.com

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