Holocaust Remembrance

Red_brick and ivy_2013-04-08

2013-04-08 – When a celebrity dies, they say the deaths come in threes. So you wait. And sure enough, two more die completing the set. It’s not a question of if but when. For the truth is: with a world population in excess of seven billion, the daily death toll is more than 300,000, not three. (That’s my back of the envelope calculation. It’s probably much more.)

Today is Yom HaShoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day. With the daily toll noted above, you have six million dead in under three weeks. So why are the deaths of the Holocaust special? To paraphrase the great question of Passover: Why are these deaths different from all other deaths?

There are two answers to this.

The first answer is that these deaths are no different from other deaths. Everyone suffers. Everyone dies. And the survivors mourn the deaths. Holocaust Remembrance Day is important because of the ordinariness of these three facts. It is important because of the pain we experience when our loved ones die. It is the same pain that occurred tens of millions of times in the Holocaust.

The second answer is that these deaths are different because they were premeditated and industrialized in a way that is unique in history.

Some people try to minimize the uniqueness by pointing to other genocides.

The victims of these genocides are not competing to see whose suffering was greater. They are dead.

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