We are in the Jewish month of Av, a month of mourning for Jewish people. In the month of Av, we remember the many tragedies that have happened to us. More than 2,000 years ago on the ninth of Av, the first and second Beit HaMikdash, our holy temples, were destroyed, burned with the holy objects to the ground. Tens of thousands of men, women and children were killed by the Romans. We were driven from our holy country, Israel, which God Himself gave to our forefathers Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He gave it to us, the Jewish people.
Then we were driven out from our holy city, from Jerusalem. More than 2,000 years ago, King David built Jerusalem, establishing it as the capital of Israel. His son, King Solomon, built the first Beit HaMikdash, the holy temple, on Mount Moriah.
Today, we have another time to remember and to mourn what happened in our generation, what the world calls the Holocaust; the survivors call it Churban Shlishi. Just as we teach and remember the destruction of the Holy Temples on Tisha b’Av, we must teach and remember the Holocaust, the Shoah, the Churban Shlishi.
The Holocaust was no less a national Jewish tragedy than the destruction of the Holy Temples. Thousands of Jewish communities and thousands upon thousands of synagogues and shtiebel (small religious prayer rooms) were destroyed and burned in the Holocaust. Hundreds of thousands of Torah scrolls were burned. Six million people, including 1.5 million children, were murdered in gas chambers and then burned in the crematoria. The 6 million kedoshim, martyrs, never had a funeral or a grave. They were our fathers, mothers and children: our future generations. Nobody said the Kaddish prayer for them; nobody sat shivah for them. There are tens of thousands of families from which no family members survived to remember them.
That’s why the 6 million holy neshamot (souls) of the Shoah must be remembered by Jewish communities. For this, we need the continued support and attendance at our Yizkor services from generations around the world.
We want to say thank you to God for helping us to come to this country. It felt like coming from hell to heaven. America gave us a home when we had none, when we were homeless and had nothing and nobody. America embraced us when we were rejected by the whole world. It gave us a feeling that we belonged.
We the Jewish people, we the Holocaust survivors, will remember the Shoah forever. We hope and pray that God’s justice will someday punish each and every one of those responsible for murdering his holy people.