At Beth Israel, we take turns reading names of those who perished in the Holocaust. We read from early in the morning until early evening. We hold a memorial service around 5:30pm. Both reading of the names and the service is open to the community. If you would like to participate in this year’s reading of the names, contact Scott Myers firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yom Hashoah – The Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day – is an international day of commemoration for both the six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany and her allies and those who resisted against that evil. On Yom HaShoah, Israel comes to a complete standstill for two minutes in silent tribute. Congregation Beth israel is among those communities choosing to consider on this day the depth of loss the Jewish people experienced in The Holocaust by reading the names of Holocaust victims – one after another after another. Because it is not possible for any one community to read all six million names in one day, each of these communities is entrusted with a portion of the total list of names. Each list is but a small fraction of the six million, but by reading together these communities assure that each victim is remembered each year.
Those who have read in the past or listened to others reading glimpse only a small fraction of the 4,871 names that have been entrusted to us. The people on our list came from 23 different countries – from Norway in the north to Algeria in the south, France in the west to the Soviet Union in the east. We know that 628 were murdered in Auschwitz, 160 at Babi Yar, 12 at Dachau, 67 at Treblinka and 55 in Warsaw. We do not know where 1,410 of these people were murdered. There were 91 Abrahams, 62 Isaacs and 32 Jacobs; 70 Sarahs, 8 Rebeccas, 80 Rachels, and 29 Leahs. We do not know the family names of 36 people on the list, or the first names of 164. We do not know the age of 1,622 people on the list, but we know that 1,791 of them were under the age of 20 when they were murdered. The oldest person on the list was reported to be 125. The list includes 61 children murdered before they reached their second birthday, and 1,179 who did not survive past their thirteenth birthday.
Nazi Germany is gone but the darkness that created it remains in our world. As the years pass and those who survived The Holocaust dwindle in numbers, remembering them, understanding The Holocaust and teaching about it becomes more important than ever. Reading names is a truly humbling experience. If you have not read in the past, we invite you to do so this year or to sit for a while and listen as others read.
You can read more about what it’s like: http://www.cbict.org/blog/yom-hashoah-3/
More information about Yom HaShoah: http://www.reformjudaism.org/jewish-holidays/yom-hashoah