Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Yom HaShoah Prayer

The following is the Chief Rabbi's Yom HaShoah Prayer, which starts Sunday night (although it is technically today but pushed off one day by the Israeli Parliament to prevent Sabbath violation in setting up official ceremonies.  It is important to also note that this date was chosen as it is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943; you can watch the official government ceremony at Yad Vashem at 8PM Israel time. 

On Yom HaShoah, we remember the victims of the greatest crime of man against man – the young, the old, the innocent, the million and a half children, starved, shot, given lethal injections, gassed, burned and turned to ash, because they were deemed guilty of the crime of being different. We remember what happens when hate takes hold of the human heart and turns it to stone; what happens when victims cry for help and there is no one listening; what happens when humanity fails to recognize that those who are not in our image are none the less in God’s image. We remember and pay tribute to the survivors, who bore witness to what happened, and to the victims, so that robbed of their lives, they would not be robbed also of their deaths. We remember and give thanks for the righteous of the nations who saved lives, often at risk of their own, teaching us how in the darkest night we can light a candle of hope. Today, on Yom HaShoah, we call on You, Almighty God, to help us hear Your voice that says in every generation: Do not murder. Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor  Do not oppress the stranger. We know that whilst we do not have the ability to change the past, we can change the future. We know that whilst we cannot bring the dead back to life, we can ensure their memories live on and that their deaths were not in vain. And so, on Yom HaShoah, we commit ourselves to one simple act: Yizkor, Remember. May the souls of the victims be bound in the bond of everlasting life. Amen.

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