Reflections from Yad Vashem

To the Reader,

Last week, we marked the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, one of the most brutal of the Nazi concentration camps. While it is a time of somber reflection, it is also a time of celebration. It is a time to remember the lives lost and the lives spared. Every life is a miracle and is something to celebrate. Last week, I read accounts from Holocaust survivors who said that their greatest revenge was to survive the camps and to go on living their lives; to have children and grandchildren and to keep on sustaining life.

I originally wrote this post back in October of 2014 on a trip to Israel. I have decided to not do much editing and to instead leave you with my initial thoughts after visiting Yad Vashem, the museum dedicated to remembering those murdered during the Holocaust as well as remembering the heroes that risked their lives to save the lives of others. My hope is that we will learn lessons from our past and will not allow history to repeat itself. Since writing this, the world has witnessed terrorist attacks in Paris at Charlie Hebdo, ISIS executing more people in the Levant, suicide bombings in Egypt and elsewhere, and Israel has thwarted dozens of attempted terrorist attacks. While all this is going on, our President refuses to acknowledge that all this is being done by Islamic terrorists. He simply refers to ISIS as an “organization” and dances around the heart of the issue every chance he gets. This does the world a terrible injustice by not acknowledging the truth and it dishonors those who were brutally murdered at the hands of these Islamic terrorists.

At the start of WWII, many around the world refused to acknowledge the evil that was arising in Hitler’s Germany and the consequences were devastating. We need to stop worrying about offending people and saying only what is politically correct and speak the truth. We cannot stand by while evil runs rampant all around us. We must stand for righteousness and speak truth to a world that is lost in darkness. Hopefully, we can learn from our past before it is too late.

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Yesterday, I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum here in Israel. The entire museum is incredibly touching and well done. If you ever have the opportunity to come to Israel, this is a must. Our guide did a wonderful job of taking us through the exhibits and making the stories and history a reality and not just a history lesson. But one thing that really struck me was that the world we live in is not as different as the one that existed right before the war broke out.

Many think the Jews and the others taken away were not taken until the late 1930s and early 40s. But as early as 1933, the first prisoners of the Dachau camp were taken away. They were presented with a choice to make. They were given a new, state-approved education and told if they left their previous way of life (meaning if they stopped being Jews and denied Torah) they could be released from prison and would be free to return home. Many would not deny who they were and would not denounce the Torah. As a result, many of these men mysteriously died while in the camp. Their families were sent letters that they had a heart attack while running or got sick or died from some injury. But the truth is that they were murdered for what they believe.

For anyone who has followed my radio show, you have probably heard me talk about the cases of bakers and photographers who refused to provide services for gay weddings and were subsequently sued and/or lost their businesses. The government’s solution to all this? Something they like to call “rehabilitation.” It’s a process these business owners can go through to become “educated” on how to operate their businesses without making anyone feel offended. The problem, or at least the biggest one, is that the real goal of these classes is to convince business owners that they must reject their Christian beliefs in order to run a successful business. The Christian bakers I reported on refused to go through this “training.”

My point is that history is repeating itself. We have to recognize the signs before it’s too late. If you don’t believe me that history is beginning to repeat itself, let me give you another example. Our guide at Yad Vashem also told us how the nations of the world turned their backs on the Jewish people in their moment of need. Their decision undoubtedly cost millions of Jews their lives.

In the mid to late 1930s, some of the European Jewry began to see the signs that times were changing and the tides were beginning to shift. Some of them tried to leave Europe and go to other parts of the world. But every single country closed their doors and refused to give refuge to the Jews.

Canada said that even one Jew was too many. Australia said that it did not have a Jew problem and that it didn’t want one. None of the countries around the world would give the Jews refuge. If we think history isn’t repeating itself, think again. All it takes is looking to the war this past summer and what position each country took. Make no mistake, whether it’s denying entry visas or voting in the UN General Assembly accusing Israel of war crimes, it’s all the same thing: denying Israel and the Jews the right to defend themselves.

During the feast of Sukkot there is an annual parade that is put on by a Christian organization to let the people of Israel know that they do not stand alone. In this parade over 80 nations from around the world are represented.

The Israelis who had waited for hours and had lined the streets of the parade were almost pleading with us to love and never abandon Israel; pleading with us to change policy in our countries…as if we had that kind of power.

“We love America,” they would yell out to us. “Thank you for being here! We welcome you to Israel!”

When we would tell them that it was us who was blessed and honored to be there they would just keep saying, “We love America.”

“But we love Israel,” we would tell them.

“But we love America more.”

How do you respond to that? It’s a humbling thing to experience. To know that these people, whom we’ve never met and who live in a different country, love us. You can see it in their eyes. You know they aren’t exaggerating or just using a word. I know it’s hard to explain but these weren’t simple words they were saying. There was something in their eyes that was almost pleading with us. Pleading with us to not turn our backs on them. To not be like the rest of the world who has abandoned them in their hour of need.

The sad part is that while we were there showing our love and support for Israel, our nation’s leaders were supporting policies that go against Israel. The shining light of hope is that down the road, hopefully those people who lined the streets that day will remember that they are loved…by people in every nation around the world. I pray that they remember they are not alone. And I pray that in that day, they will not forget us and that they are not alone. I pray that in that day we do not forget them and that Israel truly won’t be alone.

Am Yisrael Chai!

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