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Yom Hashoah: Numbers don’t lie

This week is Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust Memorial Day; it is a day of great sadness, contemplation, and disgust. It is the day on which we remember the murder of almost six million Jews, and many others who suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Numbers cannot always convey the whole story, but consider these horrific details.
• There were almost nine million Jews in Europe before Hitler and Nazism.
• Two thirds of the Jewish people living in Europe at the time of World War II were murdered by the Nazis.
• The total number of people who died represented over one third of Jewish people alive at that time.
• 1.1 million of the Jewish victims were children.
When I was a senior in high school, I attended a conference with several hundred Jewish leaders from throughout North America. To try to understand and contemplate the gravity of the loss, we sat in a large ballroom and after a short essay by Eli Wiesel was read, we began to call out numbers one at a time. 1… 2… 3… and so forth. At around sixty it was my turn and about half hour later my turn came up again. I will never forget that after close to two hours, we had only reached around the number two thousand and none of us could remain in the room and continue the count. The number of flames extinguished was “countless”.
There were around two thousand days between 1939 and 1945. This is equal to an “average” of three thousand deaths a day for the six years that the war raged on. On September 11th 2001, two thousand nine hundred and seventy seven Americans died (246 on the four planes, 2,606 at the World Trade Center, and 125 at the Pentagon).
The number of Jewish deaths during the Holocaust was equal to two thousand one hundred and ninety September 11th tragedies. This is beyond my comprehension!!!
Let us pray that all people should respect one another; that all those who suffer should find their peace; that those without families should have the fortune to have others care for them; that the world shall become a safe place for everyone, and that especially children should be protected from evil.
Let us pray that: as it says in Isaiah: Lo Yisa Goi El Goi Cherev V’loyimadu Od Milchama, Nations shall not fight one against another, and people should learn there should be no more war.
This day pulsates through good people in Israel and throughout the World. Many of our girls at Lev Lalev are grandchildren and great grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. In their history tragedy has been an all too common occurrence. We pray for their physical and mental health as well. They are the future of the Jewish people.



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