On January 26th a Women’s League group attended the Holocaust Remembrance ceremony at the United Nations. This is an observance that has been mandated by the United Nations since 2005.
We heard from the traditional United Nations leadership; UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres and President of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis. They spoke of the importance of recognizing the victims and survivors of the holocaust, and condemning all crimes against humanity. US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Diane Lipstadt, also spoke.
It was when Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN spoke, we heard the truth spoken loud and clear, and I quote, “We have been persecuted for millennia. Hitler seared the meaning of genocide into our DNA. But, on October 7th, Hamas tore open the wound”, patting a yellow star, a badge the Nazi regime forced Jewish people to wear, affixed to his lapel. “On International Holocaust Remembrance Day I stand here, in the name of the State of Israel, in the name of those murdered by the Nazis and Hamas, and I swear, we will not forget. Never again is now.” He received a standing ovation.
We also heard from Christian Pfeil, who flew in from Germany to share his story of the persecution of the Roma and Sinti peoples in Poland; and sisters Edith Tennenbaum Shapiro and Selma Tennenbaum Rossen, Holocaust survivors from Poland. Music included a piece about the Roma, and violinist Doori Na who accompanied the stories of the sisters. The ceremony was concluded when Cantor Daniel Singer recited the traditional memorial prayer, “El Moleh Rachamin.”
It was a moving and inspiring experience. There are many reasons to be critical of the United Nations at this time. It was encouraging to see the ongoing dedication to remembering the reality of the Holocaust and renewing the commitment of “Never Again.”