Notebook

Yom HaShoah

How I miss the voice of Jonathan Sacks (1948-2020)! Fortunately it still speaks to us in his writing, as in an address for Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2020 — a remembrance crucial to us all, kept by Jewish communities on this day.

‘The Holocaust has become more than a Jewish tragedy. It has become, for the West, a defining symbol of man’s inhumanity to man. […] We remember whole communities of Jews from Sweden in the north to Greece in the south, from France in the west to Russia in the east – people who were no conceivable threat to anyone – who vanished into the black hole in the heart of Europe. Among them were families who had lived in certain lands for almost a thousand years and yet they found they were still regarded as strangers without the most basic of human rights, the right to life. […] Those who hate need no reason to hate. Jews were attacked because they were rich and because they were poor. They were condemned as capitalists and as communists. Voltaire accused them of being primitive and superstitious; others called them rootless cosmopolitans. Antisemitism was protean and logic-defying. It exists in countries where there are no Jews. That is why Holocaust remembrance must not be confined to Jews alone. The victim cannot cure the crime. That demands the rule of law, a respect for justice, and a constant effort of education.’