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Israelis stand outside their cars as a siren marking the annual Holocaust remembrance day sounds in Tel Aviv, Tuesday, April 21, 2009. Frenetic Israel came to a standstill for two mournful minutes on Tuesday as air-raid sirens pierced the air in remembrance of the 6 million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust.  (AP Photo).


New England Holocaust Memorial - Fanueil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts


Yom Hashoah 2010 - Mishkan Tefilah

From the Blog of Greg Schneider, Executive Vice President of the Claims Conference

1359 Broadway, Room 2000
New York, NY 10018
Tel: 646-536-9100
Fax: 212-679-2126

Children and grandchildren bear witness to the miracles

As in many places around the world, the Jewish community of
Boston commemorated Yom Hashoah onSunday. Lydia Giffin, the
Claims Conference’s Director of Services attended the service at
Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill, MA.

The focus of the event, she tells me, was about passing the torch to
the next generation, and it was built on the future as much as the past.
Songs were sung by second, third and even the fourth generation,
including a survivor who sang an old Yiddish song with his
granddaughter. One of the most moving moments for Lydia was at the very
beginning, when they sang the national anthem followed by Hatikva. There
were many Jewish veterans and camp liberators present and they all
stood at attention, singing with pride. Frail voices of the survivors
and liberators mixed with those of the children and the next generations.
The day had started with a gathering of 800-900 at Faneuil Hall. In
attendance was Yuli Edelstein, Israeli Minister of the Diaspora who came
with the IDF Soldiers Mission and students from area schools.

This service wasn’t the only one to illustrate that the
responsibility of preserving and passing on the lessons and history of
the Holocaust is more and more falling to the children and grandchildren
of survivors. The title of the New York Times article says it all – Their Children’s Children, as Holocaust Witnesses.

Janet Stein, who organized the program at Congregation Mishkan
Tefila, is the daughter of a survivor and is on the board of Generations
After, Inc., a group of children and grandchildren of survivors that
works to ensure the Holocaust is remembered and taught. She wrote the
following as part of a letter on behalf of Generations After:

A Rabbi speaking after September 11, 2001 at a memorial service
for those who perished in the Twin Towers in Manhattan said that it is
wrong to say that 3000 people died; what really happened was that one
person died 3000 times, because each person who died meant the world to
someone. As children, grandchildren and friends of Survivors we
understand this statement, because even though we know that six million
Jewish souls were killed during the Holocaust, what really happened was
that one person died six million times over in many, many families and
that everyone lost someone, most lost many and some lost everyone. This
unique bond that we have is beyond words, it is heartfelt and rooted in
our very core.

With the death of six million Jews the World was robbed of six
million possibilities for the cure for cancer, the cure for diabetes,
the cure for Alzheimer’s. The world was robbed of six million educators,
artists, musicians, singers, scientists, physicians, we could never
list all of the possibilities lost to the world nor ever know what was
robbed from all of us.

There is no debt service large enough, no vault full enough to
begin to pay back the Survivors for what was taken from them. There is
no mechanism to calculate the replacement value of their extraordinary
losses. There is no medicine strong enough to heal the wounds or repair
the damage. There is no place safe enough to protect them from fear.
There is only us and there is only now to offer them comfort and

We are in the presence of miracles when we are with Survivors.
For each person who survived the horrific circumstances of the
Holocaust, regardless of their nationality, regardless of their location
during the war, regardless of the level of cruelty they endured, each
of them is a miracle. It is a miracle that they remained alive when
others were killed, it is a miracle that they remained alive when faced
with heartbreak beyond imagination, it is a miracle that they did not
die of disease, dehydration, malnutrition or exhaustion, it is a miracle
that they did not lose their will to live when faced with fear and the
pain of loss that we can never ever comprehend. It is a miracle that
they made it to this country and built new lives and new families and it
is a miracle that there are still Survivors here today.

And the group in Massachusetts celebrated that miracle.