Yom HaShoah and Your Voice

Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 01:34:30 -0400 (EDT)

Dear All,

Yom HaShoah began tonight. Yom HaShoah is a day to commemorate the Holocaust. Please consider doing the following: Listen and speak.
Listen to the names of those who perished in the Holocaust, or see their faces. It has become traditional on Yom HaShoah to read the names of some of those who were killed in the Holocaust. They died 60 years ago, but they also died only last year, yesterday, a minute ago. For as we give names to the 11 million victims of the Holocaust, we are reminded that every day names are added to the ever-growing list of victims of indifference and inhumanity, a list written nowhere but on the conscience of humanity.
As you listen to the names and see the faces of the victims of the Holocaust, think of the 6 million Jews and the 5 million mentally and physically disabled people, homosexuals, gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Slavs, Communists, black Germans, and others who perished in the Holocaust. But also commemorate the 3 million people who died of AIDS last year, the 200,000 who have died in Burundi's civil war, the homeless woman who froze to death in New Haven last winter, the 3 million who die of malaria every year, a 13-year-old boy beaten to death by police while in their custody in a town in Pakistan, the children in the Mideast who die of bombs and bullets, Mexicans who die trying to cross the border into the United States, and all others who die on our watch. Remember all who die without a name and without a face -- so far as most of the world is concerned -- but who had names, who had faces, who had lives, who had families, who had people who cared about them and mourned their loss, who were people like you and me, but who are now gone.
If you are at Yale, there is a 24 hour name-reading of victims of the Holocaust, which takes place in front of Sterling Memorial Library, and will conclude tomorrow, Thursday, at 8 pm. On the internet, you can view faces of the Holocaust at http://www.melizo.com/jewishpost/holocaust/holocst2.htm. Listen, see, think.
Having listened to the names of (or seen the faces of) those who are gone, listen to those who are still here. And speak for those who cannot speak, or who are afraid to speak, or who have ceased to speak because they have come to believe that nobody will listen. And speak in unison with those who are speaking, but whose voices will not be heard unless they are joined by yours and mine and a million more.
Give your voice to the slaves of the 21st century (yes, there are slaves in our midst -- the children slaves of West Africa who were recently in the news are but a small segment of this dark secret). Give your voice to women in parts of our world who are still told to stay inside. Add your voice to their voices. Add your voice to the voices of people living with HIV/AIDS and whose communities are being devastated by that disease. Add your voice to the voices of people who suffer from drug addiction but who are treated as criminals. Add your voice to the voices of people who still have no safe water to drink. Add your voice to the voices of the homeless of your community. Add your voice to the voices of those left homeless by earthquakes in India, El Salvador, Turkey. Add your voice to the voices of people in Burma, China, and elsewhere who have been jailed because they wanted to have more of a voice in their lives.
Speak with your friends, or send a letter or an e-mail to a public official. Or write something for a newspaper, or something to post on your webpage or on a wall. Or if today is not a day when you can do these things, then speak to yourself. Promise yourself to speak to others before the sun has set on too many tomorrows.
Because until you speak, until we speak, the sun will set, and set again, but it will not rise. Only when we join our voices, yours and mine and a million others, only then will the sun rise. Only then will a new day dawn.



"I have only dreams: to build a better world, a world of harmony and understanding, a world in which it is a joy to live. This is not asking for too much." -- Yitzhak Rabin

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