Tomorrow is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day to honor the more than 6 million Jews (many of them children) who lost their lives simply for being Jewish. It is a day to join with Israel in declaring “Never again!”
While focus on Israel has increased in recent years and more and more people are becoming familiar with the challenges they face in the Middle East, it is still a rare individual who understands what the Holocaust really was, how it started, how it was perpetuated, the evil minds behind it and the tremendous zeal for life exhibited by a people group headed toward extinction.
The psalmists words of Psalm 124 never rang more true than in reference to the Holocaust:
“Had it not been the Lord who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say,
“Had it not been the Lord who was on our side
When men rose up against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their anger was kindled against us;
Then the waters would have engulfed us,
The stream would have swept over our soul;
Then the raging waters would have swept over our soul.”
Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us to be torn by their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper;
The snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 124 is actually a song of ascent, which would have been sung by the Jewish people throughout the ages as they made their way to Jerusalem for major feasts. Even before the Holocaust this psalm applied, as Israel has almost always lived under immediate threat from enemies. Yet, the Holocaust serves as a modern-day, stark reminder that, had the Lord not been on their side, they surely would have perished.
I hope you will commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, whether alone in silent prayer, or in a gathering with others. Jews, and those who love them, will somberly remember those who were lost, will celebrate those who survived, and will be reminded of the incredible zest for life so characteristic of the Jewish people.
To help bring a depth of understanding to the Holocaust, I recommend Yad Vashem’s Video Toolbox, where you will find over two dozen educational videos. Here is a 15-minute sample: