The Dangers of Holocaust Denial: Chronicle

We are in a climate where the truth can be threatened. Too often this is a partisan issue and our highly charged political environment is ripe for distortions and inaccuracies about the past.

It’s dangerous. We can’t learn from history if we don’t know the facts about what really happened.

It is in this political milieu that the veracity of the Holocaust is attacked. It is important that people stand up and ensure the accuracy of what happened at the hands of the Nazis. We must not allow perpetrators to be rehabilitated.

When we water down the narrative, we minimize the impact of what humans have done to each other. It is therefore important that we remain clear about what really happened. It is to keep the truth alive in the consciousness of this community that Congregation Beth Israel of Salisbury holds its annual Holocaust Memorial Service.

As Jews, members of Beth Israel understand the importance of preserving our stories. Just over a week ago, Jews from around the world came together to tell the story of our people’s liberation from Egypt.

It’s a story we’ve been telling ourselves for over 3,000 years. While many other ancient people have disappeared, we remain. Perhaps our endurance can be tied to the fact that we keep telling our stories.

However, the reason we at Beth Israel continue to tell the story of the Holocaust is not to protect ourselves. We do this to protect everyone.

As a community so deeply affected by Nazi actions, we can witness what happens when hatred is allowed to fester. We tell this story so that we can join the rest of humanity in watching for signs of a resurgence of these violent crimes.

Perhaps the best reason to continue telling the story of the Holocaust can be seen when we review the words of German theologian and pastor Marin Niemöller:

“First they came for the socialists, and I didn’t say anything, because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t say anything — because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t say anything — because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one to speak for me.”

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Please join us as we honor the memory of those murdered by the Nazis. We continue to remember the truth of the human capacity for evil, hoping to prevent such events from happening again. May our tradition of remembrance help protect us all from the horrors of hatred.

The service

What: The Litman & Jean Litow Yom Hashoa: Holocaust Remembrance Program

When: 3 p.m. Sunday May 1

Or: Congregation Beth Israel, Salisbury

For more information: 410-742-2564

Ruth Smith is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Salisbury.