The United States Congress created the Days of Remembrance as our nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) starts on the evening of April 15 and ends on the evening of April 16. http://www.ushmm.org/remember/days-of-remembrance
During the Holocaust, more than 11 million human beings were systemically murdered. That includes 6 million Jews, 2/3 of the European Jewish community at that time.
But the numbers would have been even worse were it not for the countless “righteous gentiles.” The term “righteous gentiles” is used to refer to those who are not Jewish and who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. They are specifically honored in Israel and throughout the world.
And, of course, there were the millions of American and other service men and women who lost their lives in fighting Hitler’s machine. They, too, cannot be forgotten.
On a personal note, while my family tree is overwhelmed with tombstones for Holocaust victims, we have some survivors. My great aunt was saved by a Catholic Church in Poland whose inhabitants courageously hid her at their peril. Her daughter, my cousin and friend, later adopted two children from that Church. Yes, even in the horror of the Holocaust, there have been moments of exquisite ecumenical community.
And, this leads me to HR. Of course, one connection to Holocaust Remembrance Day is the “human” in human resources. But it is more than just that.
This is not a day or week in which we celebrate the achievement or contribution of any group or people. In remembering the Shoah in our workplaces, we are reminded of how important it is that we brook no hate. It is also a time to recognize those employees whose lives were affected and shaped by this horrific period in history.
One way to do so is simply to post on your Intranet a remembrance statement. You can find words and images all over the Internet.
This is also a great topic for a diversity and inclusion program. The diversity in experience but the universal message that includes all: we cannot tolerate intolerance against any faith, race, ethnicity, etc.
As Jews, we often say “Never Again.” And, when we say that, we mean to anyone--at any time--anywhere.
As is my tradition, I will go to the Holocaust Museum in D.C. this week to read with others the names of those murdered. I will include a long list from my own family. I also will reference collectively the children slaughtered in Kenya. They remain in my thoughts and prayers.