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Remembering the Holocaust at the United Nations

Ellen Levitt

Posted on January 28, 2019 20:18

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I attended the 2019 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. It was a somber and intriguing event; it was also was a chance for me to visit the UN.

January 27th has been designated by the United Nations as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year I attended the annual commemoration service at the United Nations. Held in the General Assembly building, this was a sobering, somber event featuring speakers, a children's choir, memorial prayers and more.

I also decided to come for this ceremony, just to visit the United Nations. Even though I am a lifelong New Yorker and sometimes drive past the UN's Manhattan complex on 1st Avenue, I had only been inside the UN once, in fourth grade, and I was curious to see it now. I admit that I am not often happy with decisions, policies and votes made here, and I think it does not always reach its potential as a force for good on a global scale. However, I respect that it is a major institution.

Ticket distribution at the Visitors Entrance was mildly chaotic but the security clearance was streamlined. Once inside the General Assembly I realized the event was already underway, so I slipped into a seat way in the back. Speakers included Alison Smale, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications; Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Israel's representative to the UN Danny Danon; two Holocaust survivors, and others. The chorus from PS 22/ Staten Island sang, and Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky of Park East Synagogue chanted a memorial prayer and a song derived from scripture, Ani Ma'amin ("I Believe").

Speakers stressed the importance of education on the Holocaust and making sure that people do not forget the horrors inflicted on Jews, the Roma, members of the LGBQT community and many others before, during and right after World War Two. Mr. Danon warned of the "dangers of apathy" and that "indifference reflects the ease of doing nothing." He explained that "never forget and never again are" pillars of Jewish education, and reflected on how this should impact everyone's education. 

Danon and others touched upon more recent acts of anti-Semitism in the United States and elsewhere, such as the shooting murders at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this past October. They pleaded for action to prevent such atrocities from reoccurring. 

The two Holocaust survivors who spoke were Inge Auerbacher and Marian Turski. Both survived as children, and spoke of the horrors and deprivations they faced. Said Inge, a noted chemist and author, "I plead with you, world. No more Holocaust, no more anti-Semitism." Said Turski, "In Auschwitz I had no name, only a number," which he recited aloud. "The hunger" he experienced in the death camp "you cannot imagine."

Cantor Rogosnitzky sang the El Maleh Rachamim memorial prayer and added in names of death camps.

It was a tense and sad but necessary event, but the children's choir sang an uplifting song. As I left the UN I complimented them and their teacher, and we all waved goodbye to each other. Hopefully these children, a multi-ethnic group, will educate others and inspire. Never Forget!

Ellen Levitt

Posted on January 28, 2019 20:18

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Source: WBRZ

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump is condemning those who deny the Holocaust and is pledging to confront anti-Semitism....

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