The purpose of this day is two-fold:
- to serve as a date for official commemoration of the victims of the Nazi regime and
- to promote Holocaust education throughout the world.
For those of us brought up within the Jewish community, this is a bitter-sweet occasion. Sweet as we are alive to commemorate this event but bitter to recall its significance.
Since my early childhood I was taught by my parents about the Holocaust, we watched films of the camps, saw photos of the horror and these were explained to me. For some reading this, this may seem very confronting. It was and it is. Our people were united in the view summarized in the statement “Never Again!”(1)The phrase “Never Again!” may have originated from a 1927 poem by Yitzhak Lamdan which stated “Never again shall Masada fall!” The phrase has been used by the Jewish people since the Holocaust but has been adapted for other genocides such as Cambodia, Ethiopia and today aspects of the war in the Ukraine. As such, is more an expression of hope than reality. A fallen world continues to practice these evils. I was taught that people, including children, were taken from their homes and had to survive actual horror, not just images of it. Maybe for some parents in a modern context you might think this a bit extreme or maybe even abusive? Sadly, at the other end of this spectrum is cocooning our children in a virtual world of games, movies and fast food.
Each year, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the peak national body representing Australia’s Jewish community, produces the Report on Antisemitism in Australia. The 2022 report (2)Antisemitism in Australia Report 2022. noted a 35% increase of reported incidents over the number of recorded incidents in 2020. Maybe thanks to COVID the number of physical incidents went down. The report notes that protests against vaccinations and lockdowns were contributing factors to the overall increase. Wherever there are conspiracy theories, some take the opportunity to blame the Jews.
Today, many Jewish people still think that the horror of Hitler’s Holocaust, his Final Solution, was a result of over a thousand years of Judenhass (“Jew Hate”) by Christians. These concerns are not without historical merit. If you research the issues you will learn that much can be attributed to pseudo-Christians, those were were not genuine followers of Messiah. Unfortunately, some can be. The Antisemitism in Australia Report 2022 discusses these issues. If you would like to know more, from a Messianic Jewish point of view, I recommend Dr Michael L. Brown’s recently updated book Our Hands Are Stained With Blood: The Tragic Story of the Church and the Jewish People.
As followers of Messiah how should we respond?
As a first step, to understand the pain we Jewish people feel over the Holocaust, you need to engage with materials like these to understand these issues better. I encourage you to watch the video below from The Australian Holocaust Museums Alliance:
As followers of Messiah, in particular Gentile ones, we need to understand our responsibility “to stand in the gap” on behalf of Jewish people:
Genuine prayers of intercession need to be offered on behalf of Israel. Heart prayers of repentance need to be offered on behalf of those genuine Christian brethren who have carried and still do carry such hate in their hearts. Resolve must be born deep in our spirits that will expose anti-Semitic attitudes both in ourselves and those around us. Finally, we need to be reminded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as the Scripture commands us to do, that the glory of the Lord might subdue the earth, and that at His coming, there would be a Bride made up of Jewish and Gentile believers alike, standing together in genuine unity and in the bonds of peace. (3)Brown, Michael L., Our Hands are Stained with Blood (pp. 3-4). Destiny Image, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Also, understand what the Scriptures actually say about the Jewish people and Israel. Do not just be hearers of the Word, but doers.
|↑1||The phrase “Never Again!” may have originated from a 1927 poem by Yitzhak Lamdan which stated “Never again shall Masada fall!” The phrase has been used by the Jewish people since the Holocaust but has been adapted for other genocides such as Cambodia, Ethiopia and today aspects of the war in the Ukraine. As such, is more an expression of hope than reality. A fallen world continues to practice these evils.|
|↑2||Antisemitism in Australia Report 2022.|
|↑3||Brown, Michael L., Our Hands are Stained with Blood (pp. 3-4). Destiny Image, Inc.. Kindle Edition.|