Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • File Doris Fogel spoke of life as a refugee in China's Shanghai ghetto at the 2003 Yom Hashoah commemoration at Congregation Achduth Vesholom.  

  • Schreier

Sunday, April 16, 2017 1:00 am

Keep flame of enlightenment burning

Anti-Semitism's latest resurgence demands ongoing vigilance from Jews, gentiles alike

Jaki Schreier

Yom Hashoah commemoration

 Stephen Feinberg, director of the Mandel Teacher Fellowship Program at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, will present “Remember, Lest We Forget and From This We Learned Nothing” at 7 p.m. April 24 on the Rifkin Campus, 5200 Old Mill Road. A reception will follow the service, which is free and open to the public.

 “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations ofanti-Semi-tism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” – from the United States Holocaust Museum

 

“Remember…lest from this you learned nothing”: These words are etched into the entrance of a local synagogue and speak as a reminder not to allow the genocide of the Holocaust ever to happen again. On April 24, the Fort Wayne community will come together to commemorate Yom Hashoah, the Day of Remembrance. We will remember the 6 million Jews targeted for extermination in Europe during one of the darkest periods in history. We will pray for those who lost their lives, and we will think of what they and all their future generations may have contributed to the world had their lives not been cut short.

After the Second World War and the Holocaust, the whole of Europe engaged in a massive anti-racism campaign, a Holocaust education campaign and a community cohesion interfaith dialogue campaign. However, as hard as we try to eradicate the virus of hate, it mutates and subsists. This prejudice against or hatred of Jews did not end with the Holocaust. It remains a global problem today, continuing among ordinary citizens, people of influence and on college campuses. It often echoes the same falsehoods used by the Nazis.

Efforts to distort or deny the Holocaust are among the ways that anti-Semitism is currently expressed. Targeting an entire group has far-reaching consequences. It can lead to an increase in xenophobia, racism and extremism throughout society, with devastating consequences for individuals, communities and nations. Now, more than 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, violence and hatred against Jews are again on the rise in Europe, the Mideast, North Africa and the United States. It appears that an ancient hatred has been reborn. For Jews, “never again” has become “ever again.”

So,you ask yourself: “Why the Jews”? Anti-Semi-tism didn't begin or end with the Holocaust. Like all marginalization, it starts as rhetoric and migrates to discrimination, which can result in violence. Anti-Semi-tism started 2,000 years ago, carried through the Middle Ages and had a resurgence in the 1930s and 1940s. It literally had legs that other forms of hatred did not.

This new wave of anti-Semitism, however, is not perpetrated by governments as it was before the Holocaust. In 1939, the leader of Germany was the foremost proponent of anti-Semitism; today, the chancellor of Germany is the foremost battler of anti-Semitism. But for extremists on both the right and the left, they are no longer on the fringe of society. Desecrating Jewish cemeteries, painting swastikas on buildings, breaking windows at synagogues and shouting hate speech have become more and more accepted.

Anti-Semitism is a virus, and viruses live by shape-shifting, moving from host to host. Across the scope of history, there has been amazing flexibility in finding ways to hate the Jews. This show of hatred is a threat to society. We are a connected global community and stand as one family. Any threat to liberal society is a threat to us all. Citizens around the world have the job to stand united and condemn hate and evil in all its ugly forms.

Jaki Schreier is executive director of the Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne.