Yom Hashoah, the annual Holocaust Commemoration, is held each year in Springfield on April 19th. PCG staff attended the 2012 ceremony and, with permission, share the litany of remembrance and hope from that service as a prayer for those who died, those who survived, and those who—today—live with courage and hope despite that legacy.
We come here today to testify, to bear witness to one of the darkest chapters in humankind’s history.
Those whom we never knew depend on us to remember and to tell their story.
We recall how the innocent and pure were murdered—man, woman, and child—with poison gas and in fiery furnaces.
We recall their pain; we don’t want that past to be forgotten.
We remember those who resisted spiritually and physically, and we marvel at their strength in the face of torment and oppression.
We remember those in the ghettos and camps, who fought back, determined that the Jewish people would outlive its oppressors.
Even on the way to the gas chambers, the martyrs raised their voices to express faith in the coming of a better day—the day of the Messiah.
We too believe that the light will shine, even if we do not yet see the end of the night. We believe in love, even when hatred surrounds us.
Let us heed the warning of the Holocaust—that the impossible can become possible, if we do not act in time.
Our world is not the same since Auschwitz; the values we teach and live by must be weighed and pondered in the light of our experience of mankind’s capacity for evil.
Let us go forth from here with renewed determination to combat violence, racism and hatred, to shun apathy and indifference, to work actively to bring harmony and healing to the world.
May our ceremony of remembrance bring us renewed courage and hope. May it strengthen us in our commitment to the life and well being of all people.
A litany of remembrance and hope, Springfield, Illinois, April 19, 2012.
Re-printed with permission from the Jewish Federations of Illinois.