Posted on August 14, 2017
We begin with a moment of silence. In memory of Heather Heyer and with our thoughts turned to those injured in Charlottesville.
I have two words for us to say together this evening.
As children we were taught that the atrocities of the Holocaust were a thing of the past, they would not—they could not–be replicated in “modern” times. We learned to say, “Never Again.”
Many of us have family that suffered or succumbed at the hands of the Nazis. Many of us are children or grandchildren of WWII soldiers, who fought against their cruel regime—some came home and shared their experiences. Others lost their lives.
For generations we’ve learned their stories. Honored their memories. Through our actions and with voices raised we declared, “never again.”
Never again will we allow hatred to tear at the very fabric of society.
“Never again” is thus a declaration of commitment to actively work to eviscerate tyranny, hatred and genocide from our world.
Yesterday morning, as bigots crowded Charlottesville, VA, I stood at my pulpit at BIC and shared with my congregants pieces of the story of my teacher, Rabbi Pesach Schindler, of blessed memory. Rabbi Schindler was placed in a German orphanage as an eight year old in 1939. Of the 150 children who lived there, he and three other young boys were the only survivors. They were able to escape certain death only because they could hide behind blue eyes and blond hair.
We look back on that time and say “never again.”
Never again should people be persecuted because of religion.
Never again should we allow skin color, eye color or hair color serve as a basis for Segregation. Bigotry. Discrimination.
Seventy five years ago the Nazis were in the midst of deporting 300,000 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to extermination camps. During this dark period of history, millions upon millions of human beings senselessly lost their lives. Cities were destroyed. Nations were destroyed. Families were destroyed.
Yet in the midst of all of this people looked to offer hope. Anne Frank, a teenage girl who spent years hidden in an attic, kept a diary that many of us have been privileged to read. In it she states: “I keep my ideals because despite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. How wonderful it is that people need not wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
If she could find hope in a dank attic, hungry, hot and scared, we can find hope tonight. Looking into the eyes of one another we know that we are not alone in our quest for peace. We will raise our voices and say “never again.”
I turn to the book of Psalms for inspiration and find the words, Hinei mah tov umanaim shevet achim gam yachad—How Good, How Pleasant it is when brothers and sisters can sit together.
We can sit together, and more importantly, we can stand together.
We stand for unity and against hatred.
We stand for inclusion and against destruction.
We stand in declaration of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Injustice in our own backyard will not be tolerated.