International Holocaust Remembrance Day - Personal Thoughts by Boaz Hadari, Habonim Dror in Sydney
Every year on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked around the world. The UN chose this date because it is the day on which the Auschwitz extermination camp was liberated from the Nazis. Several countries, including Germany and Britain, also used this specific date to commemorate the Holocaust even before the UN decision. Due to that, The UN decided to mark on Jan 27th the murder of the Jews and other minorities by the Nazis.
The UN General Assembly, which has discussed this resolution, is entitled "Holocaust Remembrance" and includes in its introductory articles a mention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Charter and the Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of Genocide. In the practical part of the decision, the General Assembly calls on countries to develop educational curricula in the field of Holocaust remembrance, rejects any attempt to deny the Holocaust, encourages countries to preserve the sites of concentration and extermination camps, and condemns xenophobia and violence on the basis of ethnic origin or religion.
During the Holocaust, a third of the Jewish people were lost because they were Jews. Dealing with this historical chapter, with the significant loss that threatened the Jewish people existence, has since shaken the whole nation. Since then the Jewish people are debating what lessons to instill, how to do it, and especially what is the message to pass in order to create and shape collective identity in the young generation, after the Holocaust.
The people of Israel have risen from the shackles of hatred, fear and destruction, and a have been fighting for their right to exist for so many years. It has not been easy for us, and it still is. We did so through struggles and challenges, while resurrecting out of fear of annihilation into a course of revival and construction.
I ask myself the question - is it possible? Is it possible to break free from the "genetic code" of fear and survival and change the reality of your life into love and kindness?
I am a third-generation in Israel, and I have two uncles who survived an impossible reality of torment, survived the inferno, and immigrated to Israel in such difficult ways. Despair was there all the time, waiting to take over, waiting to conquer their souls. But their mental strength stood up to them, and my two uncles came to Israel, married women and started families, built houses in Israel, and each of them shaped the image of the country in its own unique way.
I remember the encounters I had as a child with my uncles. I wasn't mature enough to understand my family tragic past and was not aware of their personal and painful story. However, the experience that I remember from them as a chid is full of warmth and goodness.
Today, looking from the distance of age at these personal encounters and understanding what they went through, I am astonished by the intensity of love my uncles have projected around them. They both have a sensitive and loving soul, a caressing hand, a winning smile and great humour!
I conclude from this that the human psyche is fundamentally seeking the good. The soul longs for love, for freedom, and for meaningful connections. And the Nazis (let their name and memory be erased) failed to take it from my uncles.
I think something in the tragic past of our people, of my personal family, something in dealing with the abysmal hatred, racism and fear of the different, has led me to engage in education, to try and create a more tolerant and accepting society.
I chose this path to reach challenging educational places, places with low budgets, located at the periphery, with children and youth who did not receive enough support and love.
On my profession in Israel, I serve as a facilitator in an organization that reduces aggression and strengthens a sense of belonging in youth ('Growers' Association). I have encountered hard conflicts, witnessed feelings of hatred and racism, and was excited to discover how the power of love can make a change and bring hope to even the darkest places.
Today I am proud to be a shaliach of Habonim Dror movement, a movement that has its roots deep in Europe long before World War II, a movement that laid the foundation for values of freedom and equality, human dignity and cooperation.
Despite all that humanity went through, it has still failed to get rid of racism and hatred towards the other and the different. We see that in all parts of the world, and no human society is immune to it.
Conflicts related to fear of and hatred towards the other can exists everywhere. I am hoping for a leadership that is looking to include and bring in, and that is looking to connect. To bridge the difference and to overcome the divider. I believe in such leadership, and I encourage local movement leadership to look for the common denominator instead of the differences and the distance.
The legacy that my brave uncles who survived the Holocaust left me is the responsibility to try to find the connection and not the divider. To try look for the shared ground over the separation. Not to judge based on rumours and prejudices. And to bring light and love even to the dark places.
Bivrachat Aleh VeHagshem!
Boaz Hadari, Habonim Dror and Aliyah Shaliach, Sydney, Australia