A message of ‘end the hate’ was the takeaway for the Yom HaShoah Holocaust Memorial on 12 April, at Pinelands 2 cemetery.
Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Memorial Day is a day honouring the memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the other victims of the Nazis and their collaborators. More than 70 years after the Holocaust, the Cape Town community remembered the survivors and those who died. The event included musical performances, speaker remarks and an emotional testimony by a local survivor that moved hundreds of people in attendance to tears.
A Cape Town Jewish family shared their experiences and struggles by sharing the appalling story of what their family members went through during the Holocaust and its’ effect on each of them. Holocaust Survivor Ella Blumenthal (96 years old) spoke alongside her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter about the impact of the Holocaust on each generation in their family. Mrs Blumenthal who experienced horror, pain and personal tragedies, acknowledged her cousin Rivka for the first time in her life. Rivka perished in a concentration camp. She explained that it was through taking Rivka’s name on her uncles’ visa to Palestine that she was able to escape Europe. Throughout her unspeakable experience, she never gave up hope and is perplexed that genocides continue in the world today.
Rael Kaimowitz, Chairman of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape Council), addressed the audience and said that the tragedy of the Shoah must be remembered and passed down from generation to generation. He stated that this can only be achieved if we speak out against discrimination of others and continually reflect on the historical impact of these events to ensure they stop.
During his opening address, he said:
“70 years ago, it was not the shards of breaking glass in synagogues and Jewish businesses that sounded the loudest. It was the vast majority of the German population standing by in silence that was truly deafening.
The absence of protest by ordinary Germans on Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, signalled to the Nazis that they were free to continue with their plans to destroy the Jewish people.
In the 1930’s, there was surely no Place for Hate in the most civilised country and culture in the world? In 2018, there is surely No Place for Hate is there?
We have the United Nations; we have human rights, we have social activism, we have constitutional rule, we have “Never Again”. And yet, there is Hate everywhere.
How much hate does it take to send men, women and children, old and young, religious and secular to gas chambers?
How much hate does it take in 2018 to use poisonous gas on your own civilian population?
How much hate does it take in 2018 for an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor to be stabbed to death and burned because she was Jewish?
How much hate does it take?…”
The first Yom HaShoah was 1953, and it has continued to be an essential day for Jewish people to come together and honour lost relatives and ancestors.