Virtually every year, I write a blog for SHRM on Holocaust Remembrance. This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) is on April 28, 2022.
During the Holocaust, more than 11 million human beings were systemically murdered. Millions more died fighting Hitler and his genocidal machine.
The Holocaust had a disproportionate effect on the European Jewish community. Six out of nine million European Jews were murdered—the percentage is beyond staggering.
But some may ask: what does this have to do with work? Let me suggest at least two connections.
First, the Holocaust has affected some employees directly, and it is important to recognize this connection. I acknowledge this is very personal to me as most of my grandparents’ family members were killed in the Holocaust.
Second, Holocaust Remembrance can play an important role in tempering antisemitism, and there has been an alarming increase in antisemitism over the past 5 years. This includes an increase of violence against Jews and Jewish institutions; it also includes the spreading of anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish power and influence, sometimes even in otherwise “respectable” circles.
Those who harbor stereotypes about Jews and/or who spew anti-Jewish venom don’t check their bias at the workplace door. Discriminatory and harassing conduct is inevitable, although under-reported like so many other forms of bias.
I share with you the EEOC’s unconditional and unanimous condemnation of antisemitism: found here. It is truly a model for all employers.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, I will participate in the reading of the names at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. To quote Holocaust Survivor and Noble Prize Winner Elie Wiesel: “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”
What can you and your employer do?
Please consider posting on your Intranet a remembrance statement. A short message can go a long way.
Invite a survivor to speak. Bear witness to someone who did.
Taking a few moments to focus on Holocaust Remembrance can help make less likely that the poison of antisemitism will infect your workplace and increase the sense of belonging of Jewish and other employees at the very same time.