This is the invocation I gave for the Yom HaShoa, Holocaust Remembrance, Ceremony on Sunday, May 1, 2022 at the Holocaust Museum of Los Angeles:
Ruach Elohim, Holy Breath of Life:
We gather on this day to recall and remember and never to forget the millions of people who were imprisoned, and tortured and murdered during the Shoa. They were carted in Cattle cars like animals, gassed and shot; given lethal injections. They were starved and enslaved and sometimes buried alive. Six million of our Jewish people targeted by hatred so vile and so heinous. Millions more people: Roma, the Disabled, Gay men and lesbians, Jehovah Witnesses, Political prisoners, Trade unionists, Poles and those of many other nations who were murdered by the Nazis. The Children and the aged; The infirm, and those who were young and vibrant; tortured and murdered, and turned to ash. Their lives cut short by cruelty and barbarism for simply being who they were.
It is hard to fathom the scope and scale of violence and death and yet our task on this afternoon is to confront the horror of this past, of our past.
Today at this Yom HaShoa, Day of Holocaust Remembrance observance, we pay tribute also to the Holocaust survivors whose resilience in the face of such horror is a shining example of the human spirit to make meaning, to rebuild their lives, and to be a living testimony and witness. Bless them with health and continued long life.
Today at this Yom HaShoa Remembrance, we give thanks for the liberators; brave soldiers who fought a brutal war to ensure that the Nazi regime would be defeated. For their courage, and fortitude we give thanks to You Eternal One. And with reverence and sanctity we remember the lives of the soldiers, called the Greatest Generation, who died to free the world of the Third Reich. May the souls of all the victims of the Shoa and those who died to fight the evil of that time be bound up in the bonds of eternal life.
Ruach Elohim, Holy Breath of Life, grant us the fortitude and courage to challenge the evil that is still in our midst that cause us to hate another in our hearts.(lev. 19:17) We see unfolding before our very eyes a rise in AntiSemitism, anti Asian Hatred, Homophobia and transphobia, and Xenophobia. We see the despicable atrocities each night being inflicted on Ukraine and its peoples The Uyghur (We-grr) people in China are enslaved and in concentration camps today. Genocides are ongoing in Myanmar, South Sudan and Congo.
Humanity, we have not learned the Shoa’s lessons.
Ruach Elohim, hear our prayer.
Teach us to not only to remember-but to act; to defeat tyranny and hatred.
To see all we meet as created in Your Divine Image (B’tzelem Elohim) (Gen 1:27 וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים)
Let us use this day of Yom HaShoa, to reach out to one another in love, So as to וְאָֽהַבְתָּ֥ לְרֵעֲךָ֖ כָּמ֑וֹךָ אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָֽה V’ahavta Re-echa Kamocha, to Love our neighbor as ourselves. (Lev. 19:18)
Let us use this day of Yom HaShoa to לֹ֥א תַעֲמֹ֖ד עַל־דַּ֣ם רֵעֶ֑ךָ -Lo taamond al dam re-eycha – to Not stand idly by the blood of our neighbors who are targeted by hate; ( Lev. 19:16)
Let us use this day of Yom HaShoa to – וְגֵר לֹא־תוֹנֶה וְלֹא תִלְחָצֶנּוּ – v’ger lo toneh v’lo tlchazenu
To not oppress or exploit the stranger in our midst (Ex 20:22).
Let us use today to remember, to honor, to reflect and to spur us to action wherever and whenever there is inhumane behavior.
Open our eyes, Open our ears, open our hearts and our hands, O God.
And strengthen us Holy One of Blessing, for the task ahead.
Ken Yehi Ratzon. May it Be God’s Will.