Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day
"I stand here on this cursed ground, from which the cries of our brothers will forever resound, I salute our six million brothers and sisters... I salute the ashes of our people and vow 'never again.'" Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi
You don't have to be Jewish to honor the more than 6 million innocent victims of the Holocaust, modern history's worst crime against humanity. You just have to be a human being.
For the 17th year, thousands of people, from teenagers to survivors joined the March of the Living, an annual Walk of Remembrance from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Jews and all those connected to survivors around the world marked the horror of the Holocaust with prayer and ceremonies. Yom HaShoah is especially poignant this year in Israel, preparing to celebrate its 60th anniversary as a nation, formed largely by and for those forced from their homes and countries by the Nazis.
Hamas, on the other hand, took the opportunity to pervert Yom HaShoah by airing a documentary series claiming that the Holocaust--the genocide of European Jews--was planned as a satanic Jewish plot to get rid of the handicapped and mentally ill.
Hamas also claims the Holocaust was meant to manipulate the world media into feeling sorry for Jews. And of course, it never really happened and the Nazis had nothing to do with any of it.
What can you say to that kind of bigotry, hatred and ignorance? We'd like to ignore it, but so many Palestinians, a whole generation of young ones for sure, are being taught this horrible lie.
It's not a time to talk Middle East politics. It's a time to remember those who died at the hands of evil hatemongers. And to pray. And to promise it won't happen again.
Those who join the Walk of Remembrance take a solemn pledge. It can't be any clearer than this:
"We pledge to keep alive and honor the legacy of the multitudes of our people who perished in the Holocaust.That's our future and our children's future, those special words: Never Again.
We pledge to fight anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, Holocaust denial and all other forms of hatred directed towards the Jewish people and Israel.
We pledge to fight every form of discrimination manifested against any religion, nationality or ethnic group.
We pledge to actively participate in the strengthening of Jewish life in the Diaspora and Israel.
We pledge to increase our knowledge of our Jewish heritage and to pass on a love of Jewish life and learning to the next generation.
We pledge to give tzedaka, to assist in helping the Jewish needy, wherever they may live in the world.
We pledge to involve ourselves in tikkun olam, to build a better world for all members of the human family.
After the Shoah the promise of 'Never Again' was proclaimed. We pledge to create a world where 'Never Again' will become a reality for the Jewish people and, indeed, for all people.
This is our solemn pledge to the Jewish people, to those who came before us, to those of our generation, and to those who will follow in future generations."