GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Holocaust Remembrance Day was recognized and remembered Tuesday in Eastern North Carolina. It highlights the importance of bravery and resilience, not only as a history lesson, but a lesson for today’s society.
“This is Yom Hashoah, the day of the show of the Holocaust in our Jewish tradition,” said Harley Karz-Wagman, rabbi at Congregation Bayt Shalom in Greenville. “It was set many years ago as a Jewish holiday, very tragic holiday to fall right after Passover ends and before we celebrate the independence of the founding of the Jewish state of Israel.”
Rabbi Karz-Wagman explained that although the Holocaust is always difficult to talk about and remember, it’s incredibly important to look back on it as an example of bravery.
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“There were six million Jews who were systematically murdered by Nazis and their collaborators include active people, but they also include bystanders,” Karz-Wagman said. “So, one thing we often forget is how important it is to educate all of us who might just stand by and watch acts of oppression happen.”
Jews during World War II also showed what it means to stand up against hate, as they stood up against the Nazis.
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“There was resistance against them, there were the allied forces that fought against them, there were people that stood up. It is the bystanders, the silence that is the danger that enables nothing is awful as the Holocaust, but all of the horrible things that happen because people don’t stand up enough to prejudice,” said Karz-Wagman.
Even though antisemitic incidents continue to rise, Karz-Wagman said there is a large group of Jewish supporters.
“This is not the same as World War II with the Nazis and their collaborators,” Karz-Wagman said. “Today if there’s antisemitism, we as the Jews can go to the government and get help. Back then the government was behind it. It’s important for all of us to see each other as allies in this constant fight against oppression that comes out of hatred that comes out of fear.”
Karz-Wagman said Congregation Bayt Shalom does different Holocaust commemoration programs in their synagogue each year, but they also host a multi-faith program to lean on each other during a rise in hate.
This year’s Holocaust commemoration program will be held on April 30 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. For more information visit Congregation Bayt Shalom.