Growing Observance Of Yom HaShoah
Tue, 04/13/2010

Gary Rosenblatt’s column on Yom HaShoah raises important questions about the future of Holocaust commemoration (“Yom HaShoah: Finding A Way To Remember,” April 9). If anything, there is a growing observance and awareness in Jewish and non-Jewish communities alike, and in the number of public observances (including in state capitals, military bases, universities, and government agencies) around the country.

Growing up in Providence, R.I., in the 1950s, I don’t remember any events, Jewish or civic. The article mentioned the national commemoration that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum conducts each year during that week. It is part of the museum’s federal mandate to lead the nation in Holocaust remembrance, as well as helping communities and institutions across America, as well as on our military bases around the world, to hold commemorations. This year we also are reaching out online, using the Internet and the new tools of social media, to engage audiences in dialogue about the importance of remembering, and in virtual observances.

The observance of Yom HaShoah is not only for the Jewish community; it is an event that can and does have meaning for all Americans.

While the annual commemoration in the Capitol Rotunda (this year on April 15) does incorporate some of the elements of the Jewish/survivor community, it is the national civic event of Holocaust remembrance. As such, it receives widespread attention.

Part of this is due to the participation and engagement of major public figures. Last year, President Barack Obama addressed the overflow crowd, and this year, as we honor the liberators, Gen. David Petraeus, a former commander of the 101st, a liberating division, will be the keynote speaker. While only a small number of people (including many Holocaust survivors and 120 liberators of the camps) will be joining members of Congress and others in the rotunda, your readers can get a sense of the power of the event from our live Webcast from the rotunda (11:30am on Thursday, April 15), and they can watch it at www.ushmm.org.

Senior Adviser

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
 

 

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