Time causes our memories to collect dust. Without a regular spring cleaning, dusty memories lose their edge, lose their focus and lose their purpose. The March of Remembrance is an opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to do some spring cleaning in our memories and reflect upon atrocities that took place during the Holocaust and that will be repeated if we forget to remember.
Anti-Semitism is on the rise and as demonstrated in Ray Comfort’s “180 Movie” (www.180movie.com), many of today’s young people have no idea who Adolph Hitler was or that he was able to engineer the genocide of two-thirds of all Jews living in Europe or one out of three Jews on the planet at that time. Multiple world leaders today have publicly committed to the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people; and yet, few people take notice. Even in South Florida tensions are high. Two members of the Miami Beach Jewish community received death threats as they exited a synagogue last month. The alleged perpetrator repeatedly screamed “Allahu Akbar” and “I will cut off your heads.”
Most Christians are not anti-Semitic, but they are also not aware of the nearly 2000 years of discrimination, hatred and bitterness that has been hurled at the Jewish people by their “Christian” ancestors. Even Hitler claimed to be a Christian (although his Christianity was as twisted as his cross), and many Jews, through life experience, associate Christianity with the persecution of the Jewish people. It is time to bring reconciliation and show the Jewish people that they are not alone. Although there are strong and important theological differences between Jews and Christians, they can stand united against anti-Semitism.
The March of Remembrance is an annual community-wide gathering to remember the Holocaust, honor survivors and those who perished, and to stand together to say, “Never again!” Held on or near Yom HaShoah, the Jewish Day of Holocaust Remembrance, this year’s March will be Sunday, April 12, at 3 p.m. beginning at Boca Raton Christian School and marching a half mile to Temple Beth El in Boca Raton. Jewish and Christian students will accompany Holocaust survivors on the March as an act of unity and a candle lighting ceremony will memorialize the 6 million Jews who perished. There will be a 4 p.m. program at Temple Beth El featuring Holocaust survivors, community leaders, and music from world-renown violinist, Gil Morgenstern. Both the March and the Memorial Program are free and open to the public.
The March of Remembrance began in 2006 as a church in Tübingen, Germany, began to realize that many of their ancestors had been perpetrators of horrible crimes during the Holocaust. Sensing that God wanted them to do something publicly to renounce the past and bring reconciliation, they began the March of Life in Germany. The March of Life was to remember the death marches during the Holocaust, to give Holocaust survivors a chance to tell their stories and to pray for reconciliation. The movement expanded across Europe the following year and then spread to the United States in 2009 as the March of Remembrance. This year the March will occur in 57 cities.
In Boca Raton, the first March of Remembrance was held in April of 2013, with pastors, rabbis and community leaders coming together. This year’s March has been a combined effort of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Victory Church (Boca Raton), Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, Boca Raton Christian School, The Flame Society (a Holocaust education organization) and the Boca Raton Interfaith Clergy Association.
Pastor Don Karpinen, Senior Pastor of Victory Church and part of this year’s planning committee, considers it an honor to work together with Jewish, Christian and interfaith leaders in the South Florida community to say, “Never again, and not on our watch. We are coming together as congregations of faith to pray against the violation of human rights and the advancement of evil.” He encourages all believers to come to the March as a great way to show support for Jewish friends and neighbors. This year’s march is only a half-mile long and a complimentary shuttle bus will be available after the memorial service to take people back to the school. Doors will open at 3:30 at Temple Beth El for those not able to participate in the March.
If you are interested in participating, you can join the March at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 12, beginning at Boca Raton Christian School, 470 NW 4th Ave, Boca Raton. There will be a 4 p.m. Yom HaShoah Program at Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, 333 SW 4th Ave, Boca Raton. For more information visit www.morboca.org
Tye Riter is the executive pastor of Reveal Fellowship. He blogs regularly at www.zombie-warfare.com.