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Thursday, April 16, 2015

A DAY TO REMEMBER

It is “Holocaust Remembrance Day” in Israel. While there are many “Remembrance Days” kept in memorial of the Holocaust, none is as poignant as “Yom HaShoah,” the official day of observance in Israel. Flags fly at half-mast, prayers are offered, candles burn, sirens sound across Zion for two minutes, people stand at attention, cars stop where they are; silent tribute to the dead is offered. Throughout the day speeches from the dwindling survivors recall the pain, the pride and the motivation for a motto that leaves no doubt for the future of a nation promised by God Himself: “NEVER AGAIN.”

A few years ago as we exited from a private meeting at the Knesset, the large hall at the entrance of Israel’s parliamentary building was filled with Holocaust survivors. It was Yom HaShoah. I have no words to describe the feelings I experienced as we quietly slipped through the crowded room. As a gentile, as a Christian, I felt I was violating something sacred. My presence was not appropriate as I maneuvered through these icons of horror. As I returned to my hotel I could not get their faces out of my mind. They are now mostly in their 80’s and 90’s; in a few short years they will all be gone. No one will be left who heard the cries. The Holocaust deniers will be emboldened as these living memorials slip away. A void will be left on this planet that never could nor ever should be again filled.

So, when in Israel I repeatedly walk the hallowed grounds of Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem) and soak in the noble presence and quiet pain of those survivors still among us. I contemplate the connections between the Christian faith I hold so dear to the tragedies before, during and after the dark days of the Nazi regime. I must listen to the lessons of Jewish and Christian history and work for understanding between Christians and Jews today. I must stand with the Jewish people and take as my own the commitment to NEVER AGAIN.

In Exodus 3:7 we read: ” The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.” God does not ignore nor forget the cries. He will also enlighten those with a listening ear.


So I will remember…and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.