Last month, we had the opportunity to remember and honor. This began on Yom Hashoah, when we remembered the victims of the Holocaust. B’nai B’rith has made this remembrance a part of its calendar of activities by bringing the program, Unto Every Person There is a Name, to communities and campuses in North America. On Yom Hashoah, the names of victims are read aloud as part of ceremonies that brings the community together to commemorate and observe the day. There are readings, poems and personal stories shared by survivors. This also includes second and third generations of families. It is a time to salute the liberators of the concentration camps and recognize rescuers of Jews, whether they be Jewish themselves or of another faith.
Since 1989, B’nai B’rith has been responsible for the distribution of program materials provided by Yad Vashem and an international committee each year. B’nai B’rith is represented by the B’nai B’rith World Center on the committee and assists in the selection of an annual theme that is incorporated into the observance. In addition to the community events, we are especially proud that the program is linked to campuses across North America, via the fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi’s program, We Walk to Remember, held on 161 campuses this year. B’nai B’rith provides the materials for the campus program and AEPi brothers walk through their campus in silence, beginning and/or ending with name readings. They pass out a fact sheet about the Holocaust and proudly wear a simple message “Never Forget” on their tee shirts. The sticker reminds them and those who they pass that they are committed to remembering and bringing awareness about the Holocaust each year.
A week later, communities gathered to observe tributes to Israel. On Yom Hazikaron, the Jewish community remembered the soldiers who have given their lives to create and protect the Jewish state. The day precedes Yom Haaztzmaut, designated to remember the anniversary of Israel’s founding. Both days offer the opportunity to remember and honor, bringing pain and joy together as one day ends and the other begins. These days remember and celebrate the creation of a homeland for the Jewish people. B’nai B’rith leaders and representatives of lodges and units across the globe, joined with the Jewish communities to remember and celebrate the fact that we are all connected to Israel no matter where we live.
We concluded the month of May here in America with Memorial Day, created as a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of our country. It was proclaimed after the Civil War in 1868, to honor those who had died and to decorate their graves.
As continued, it became a day to remember those who gave their lives fighting for their country around the world. It has also become a time to remind us that while it is a day off, it should not be known as the time to have a barbeque, get to the official opening of swim clubs or to take advantage of a sale at the shopping mall. B’nai B’rith’s commitment to remember those members who lost their lives is evident in archival information and in memorials around the country. Another way to remember and honor those lost and those who have been wounded is through community service at programs at Veteran’s Affairs hospitals.
The Jewish people remember and honor their history. Individuals also observe the days such as those described above and in another very personal way, when we observe the anniversary of a family member’s death. This is dedicated to my mother Rochelle Boltino, whose Yahrzeit was observed on May 31.
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