Mazal Library Collection
Mazal Library Collection

The Importance of Yom HaShoah

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”

~ Yehuda Bauer

What is Yom HaShoah?

Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah (יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה; “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day”), known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה) and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day. It was inaugurated in 1953, anchored by a law signed by the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion and the President of Israel Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. It is held on the 27th of Nisan (April/May), unless the 27th would be adjacent to Shabbat, in which case the date is shifted by one day. In other countries there are different commemorative days.

Shoah, which means catastrophe or utter destruction in Hebrew, refers to the atrocities that were committed against the Jewish people during World War II. This is a memorial day for those who died in the Shoah. **

The Shoah (also known as the Holocaust, from a Greek word meaning “sacrifice by fire,”) was initiated by the members of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party, which seized power in Germany in 1933. The Nazis believed in a doctrine of racial superiority, centering on the idea that people of Northern European descent were somehow better than members of all other races ~ especially the Jews, who were “unworthy of life.”

The words “never again” have been used throughout history but originated after the Holocaust.   This exhibit and its accompanying events at the Branch Libraries of the San Antonio Public Library around the city, are a collaborative effort between The San Antonio Public Library, The SA Public Library Foundation, the Mazal Holocaust Library and The Holocaust Museum of San Antonio. In commemoration of the Shoah, we wanted to bring you an exhibit of the atrocities that occurred and the voices that are still among us, to bring awareness to our community.   The purpose of this is to show you historically what the Jews and others have been through and to hopefully touch each one of you in a way that you can help us educate your children, friends and families about the Holocaust.

Holocaust denial is an attempt to negate the established facts of the Nazi genocide of European Jewry. Key denial assertions are: that the murder of approximately six million Jews during World War II never occurred; that the Nazis had no official policy or intention to exterminate the Jews; and that the poison gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp never existed.

A newer trend is the distortion of the facts of the Holocaust. Common distortions include, for example, assertions that: the figure of six million Jewish deaths is an exaggeration; the deaths in the concentration camps were the results of disease or starvation but not policy; and that the diary of Anne Frank is a forgery.

There are well known deniers of the Holocaust, some examples are David Irving, Bishop Richard Wiliamson, Hugo Chavez (Venezuela’s President), Mahmound Ahmadinejad (Iranian President), Ernst Zündel and Professor Robert Faurisson, to name but just a few.

Throughout the month of March until April 7, 2013, the exhibit will be on display at the Central Library and we will have survivors of the Shoah, show screenings of some of the most impactful movies about the Holocaust, have children’s programs to teach tolerance and diversity and some programs geared towards teachers, educators and parents as well as a presentation on the life of Anne Frank.   This is an opportunity for us to stand as a community, as a city, a state and a nation against violence, to present a united front and “never again” allow such atrocities to occur to our fellow man.

Our voice is our imprint on our world, our distinctive note, our pattern, our touch one to another. It may be spoken, written, sung, drawn, gestured or danced, even delivered on the still wings of silence or in the intimacy of eyes.   We wish you adventure, joy and inspiration in listening to these myriad voices  -  adding your own along the way!

Please join us for this exceptional exhibit and the voices of those who tell their stories of horror and human suffering to learn and teach.  Join us in the fight against intolerance and inhumanity.  If we all hold hands together, for the common goal of ending such atrocities, then we will show strength as one.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

~ Anne Frank

Portions of the above have been taken from Wikipedia.com, Humanity.org, URJ.org and the United States Memorial Museum, in Washington D.C.