The Holocaust stunned the world with its magnitude, scope and inhumanity and is remembered every year by Jews in a service called Yom Ha Shoah. There is a special liturgy for the event, as well as candle lighting for the people who lived through and died in it. Though Christians as a whole do not commemorate the day, more Christians are becoming aware of both the Jewish roots of their faith and Christians’ involvement in the Holocaust.
People claiming to be Christians were involved in both the rescue and the imprisonment of Jews and other groups during the reign of the Third Reich. This certainly confused many Jewish people; some experienced the loving-kindness of the Heavenly Father through rescuers like Corrie Ten Boom, others experienced the taunts of imposters who used the death of Jesus as a justification for doing evil. Violating the example laid down in the Scripture by Jesus himself, who forgave all the offenders from the cross, imposters claimed: “You are here because you killed our Christ.” Honoring Christ’s command, others who claimed the name of Jesus fed, clothed and sheltered the Jewish people as they put their faith to action.
Locally, a Commemorative March will be held on Sunday, May 1st followed by a Holocaust Remembrance Program. The March begins at Boca Raton Christian School, 470 NW 4th Ave., Boca Raton, and ends at Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, 333 SW 4th Ave., Boca Raton, where the program will begin at 4 p.m. You can join Holocaust survivors, their families, and their supporters on this one-half mile march in commemoration of the Holocaust.
Cathy Karpinen, of Victory Church in Boca Raton, is a regular supporter of the event and said she plans to attend again this year. “We think it’s really powerful that it starts off at a Christian school lands in a Jewish temple and comes together in defense of human rights to stand against the atrocities of the Holocaust. It honors those who survived, making sure that we in our community will always remember, so we’ll never see such injustice repeated in our lifetime,” said Karpinen. “Very few religious events bring Christians and Jews together, and we think that’s powerful too.”
Why remember by a march?
The American precedent had been set by Martin Luther King Jr., who used marching as a form of peaceful protest against unjust government and for reconciliation of races. There are now a variety of causes that choose to march as a form of peaceful protest or a form of free speech designed to draw attention to a cause. Often the cause is to influence governments, as the march by Martin Luther King Jr. was, as well as the March Against Police Brutality and the March for Life currently. Of these two, the March for Life comes closest to the March of Remembrance. Both of these events are focused on a gross injustice and both events are a memorial of a specific past event, rather than an ongoing issue alone. Many American Christian organizations have compared the Holocaust to the aftermath of Roe vs. Wade, and the numbers are sufficient to make the comparison. The innocence of the victims in all three marches is another apt comparison. Government involvement as a tool of injustice is another connection.
The history and vision of the March of Remembrance
The original March of Remembrance was called the March of Remembrance and Hope, and is a program designed to teach students of various backgrounds and religions about the Holocaust, other genocides, and the dangers of intolerance. It involved a two-day trip to Germany and a five-day trip to Poland, visiting the sites of concentration/death camps as well as the site of the Wannsee Conference. The program takes place in mid May, and is designed to remember all who suffered the tyranny of the Nazi regime, including homosexuals and gypsies. The current March of Remembrance being held in America is more focused on the Jewish people and the solidarity between Christians and Jews, and is a joint effort of churches and synagogues. It is also held in various states around the country, and not so much an international event. In Europe, the sister event is called the March of Life.
The march has as its stated goals to “take the lessons of the Holocaust to break the silence of fear, pain and shame caused by prejudice and indifference.” This includes the wall of silence built by fear, pain, and shame holding both victims of the Holocaust and the perpetrators who have seen the need to hide their crime in the Holocaust. Sometimes this wall is directly divinely broken, as when Corrie Ten Boon met the guard who so cruelly treated her sister. One can see her tell the story of this encounter online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7x27AQ8gks, and hear commentary on the encounter as well at this link, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue8msG9HgDM. At other times, the healing is more gradual. Pastor Jobst Bittner explores the broadness of healing as it affects not just holocaust survivors, but also our personal lives, our congregational lives and our nation. When the walls of silence go up, our lives come down in a torrent of loneliness, inner coldness and the sense of being lost in darkness. His book is recommended by the March for Remembrance site, and can be found on line at www.theveilofsilence.com/the-book/.
The American March of Remembrance and the March of Life in Europe have been recognized and honored by the Israeli Knesset in award ceremonies held November 22, 2011 and February 24, 2015. The Israeli Helping Hands Coalition in the Knesset, which is responsible for the care of Holocaust survivors in Israel, awarded March of Remembrance the certificate of honor, which anyone who is willing to join the march may print out at www.marchofremembrance.com. Ted Pearce and Steve Wearp accepted the award in 2011 and composed a touching letter to marchers. They express their thanks for standing for justice and standing with the Holocaust survivors, and encouragement to continue the stand. They also speak a blessing over all who would comfort the survivors and their families, and stand for justice.
If you would like more information about the March of Remembrance in Boca Raton, contact Marissa Trowbridge at [email protected] or 561-852-602, or visit www.marchofremembrance.org.