Holocaust Remembrance Service at General Seminary
The service includes music and prayers from both Jewish and Christian traditions along with the lighting of memorial candles. It was originally held on the anniversary of Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass, November 9, 1938, when throughout Germany and Austria, synagogues and Jewish homes and businesses were destroyed by mobs and Nazi stormtroopers. The government-sponsored assault has been called the prelude to the Shoah, the destruction of six million Jews that took place in the next six years. The service has been held more recently on the eve of Yom HaShoah, chosen by Israel's Knesset as an international day of remembrance. Jewish and Christian participants in past years have filled the seminary's beautiful 19th century chapel to its capacity. More details about Yom HaShoah may be found below. "It is always a deep privilege for the seminary to host this collaborative effort of Jewish and Christian seminarians," said the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, dean of the seminary. "We welcome all persons of faith and goodwill to join us for this important commemoration."
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What is Yom HaShoah?
The full name of the day commemorating the victims of the Holocaust is Yom HaShoah e-Hagevurah, The Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and the Heroism.
When is it commemorated and why?
It is commemorated on the 27th day of the month of Nisan--a week after the seventh day of Passover. The Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, selected the date in 1951 and it has become a day of remembrance and prayer for Jewish people worldwide. It has also become a day when Christians seek the opportunity to pray with Jews and remember the pain, loss and heroism of the Holocaust. Episcopal parishes in many communities gather with neighboring synagogues in public prayer. Throughout Israel, sirens sound and silence is maintained at 11:00 AM and at sundown.
What was the Holocaust and who were its victims?
The Holocaust was the systematic persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Holocaust is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." By 1945, close to two-thirds of all European Jews had been killed by the Nazis. Other groups were also targeted and hundreds of thousands of Roma (gypsies), Slavs, the mentally and physically disabled, Jehovah's Witnesses, political dissidents and homosexuals perished. Until the final desperate hours of the war in May 1945, the Nazis used ghettos, concentration camps, extermination camps and death marches to complete their horrific plans for a "final solution."
Yom HaShoah honors heroes of the Holocaust. Who are they?
All victims and survivors of the Holocaust are heroes. We also remember those who resisted and sacrificed to bring the horror to an end. These include many Jewish fighters, rabbis, women and children, as well as the courageous throughout Europe who, in small and large ways, took personal steps to confront the Nazi murder. These include many Christians.
Where can I learn more about the Holocaust?
An excellent source of accurate and clear information is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, part of the Smithsonian Institution. Their website at www.ushmm.org is excellent. Tours are available daily and special group sessions are available for your parish. Youth tours are carefully designed to help older children understand this grim human history and to learn the results of bigotry and intolerance, important lessons for today.
On Yom HaShoah we pray for all victims of genocide. What other acts of genocide demand our attention?
Tragically, the world has been slow to learn the lessons of the Holocaust. This makes all the more urgent the ministry of teaching children tolerance and human understanding for those who are different. Since WWII horrendous genocide has occurred in many places, including Cambodia in the late 1970's and Rwanda in the 1990's. In the Darfur region of the Sudan many thousands have suffered by persecution, displacement, and murder.