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Rabbi's Blog: International Holocaust Remembrance Day

01/27/2022 05:04:30 PM


Dear OZ family,


Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and it is commemorated annually at the United Nations on the anniversary of the liberation of the most advanced murder machine man has ever crafted. On this day in 1945 the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp stopped murdering 20,000 people a day. The plans to murder European Jewry was decided on Jan. 20th 1942 at the Wannsee Conference, and I reported to you last week that 80 years to that day, the UN finally adopted a resolution co-sponsored by Germany and Israel, to identify and condemn Holocaust Denial. It was only the 2nd time in all these years that a resolution sponsored by Israel was adopted by the General Assembly of the UN.


The plan to annihilate the Jews was part of the Nazi ideology of a 1,000 year Reich. The seeds of mass murder were already planted in the words of Mein Kampf. That murderous tract understood that the Jewish conscience would never allow the Germans to wipe out all undesirables and weaklings, and those who don’t carry their own weight. The weak would need to be destroyed, and the helpless would be wiped out. The Nazi plan was to wipe out Jews in all their lands of conquest, to assure that no one would interfere with their ultimate plot of world dominion by eradicating any force of weakness.


The Jew would indeed stand up to such a nefarious plot. The Jew, whether traditional or not, is imbued with the spirit of the Torah, of Yeshayahu and Micha, of Amos and Hoshea, of Yirmiyahu and  Yechezkel, that guides us to protect the weakest and most frail among us. Every single Jew was a potential enemy of this 1,000 year plot, and it was thus from the very outset, only Germany slowly robbed the Jews of their rights. First their rights as other citizens, then their rights to gainful employment, then their rights to property, then their rights of residence, then their rights to life. The German plot against the Jew just as Paroah’s in the beginning of Sefer Shemot, when hard work turned to back-breaking labor to embittered lives, to genocide.


We hardly had anyone to take our case to consider these stages to be worthy of pushback. We were utterly alone. Today, we know how to defend ourselves, and how to push back, as Anti-Semitic attacks proliferate. To wit, the bald anti-Semitism of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to pick only Israel to flex its prejudicially pseudo-moralistic muscle has been profoundly met by our pushback,  Ben and Jerry’s parent company, Unilever has removed the ice cream from its inventory of products. We can and will respond to hatred. We will be vigilant about the way we are treated.


I conclude these words by recognizing two heroic members of our community, who are Auschwitz survivors. One is our long-time member, Renee Slotkin. Renee and his wife, June are very dear friends of OZ and have guided our shul through some very difficult times from back in the early 1980’s. Renee and his sister Irene came to Auschwitz at the age of 5, and survived because the angel of death who met them off the train that carted them to Hell, was interested in twins. They survived together and were raised together here in New York. Also I would like to recognize our oldest member, Hilde Khnie, an extraordinary woman who arrived at Auschwitz after two grueling years in the Lodz ghetto and survived with her mother after death marches and time in another death camp before being liberated. Renee and Hilde are testament to our tenacity and adherence to our values and morals. They are righteous, generous and kind people who make everyone around them better. May they continue to live in comfort until 120.


Rabbi Allen Schwartz



Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 | Fax 212.663-3635




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