On April 23, 2017, more than 2,100 people attended the Annual Gathering of Remembrance—New York’s largest Holocaust commemoration—and 45,000 people watched the ceremony live online.
Excerpted Remarks from Michael S. Glickman, President & CEO of the Museum, at New York’s Annual Gathering of Remembrance at Temple Emanu-El on April 23, 2017
Remembering the lives lost in the Holocaust is an act of resistance against the Nazis’ attempts to dehumanize and destroy the Jewish people.
The full horror of genocide is in its ambition not only to murder individuals, families, and communities, but also to wipe out the entire people to whom they belonged—the people who could tell their story, acknowledge their humanity, and preserve their memory. In their attempt to obliterate the Jewish people, the Nazis sought to change the future and master the past. There would be no Jews to remember the Jewish people who were exterminated; there would be no Jewish perspective on Jewish history, no Jewish insistence that each life is important and should be mourned. Having been denied their humanity in life, victims of the Shoah would be denied it in death. There would be no survivors’ voices or rallying cries.
Today, we are still here. The Jewish people persist, and we refuse to forget.
What should remembrance look like? How should it feel? We at the Museum face the necessary challenge of representing the facts of the Holocaust while encouraging visitors to connect to history on a human level. The more than 30,000 items in our collection illustrate Jewish life, reveal Jewish self-reliance in the face of exclusion, and suggest the trauma of extreme loss in the Shoah. These objects are ambassadors from a world that flesh-and-blood people created, inhabited, and fought to preserve.
In our own time, we are seeing a rise in anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. We have to be vigilant. The Museum stands against bigotry, hatred, and violence. We protect the historical record, strengthen scholarship, promote understanding of Jewish heritage, and stand with vulnerable groups. And on days like today, voices from the past can inspire all of us to answer calls from the present. Yom HaShoah is a day on which we fulfill the sacred obligation to remember. It is also a time to let what we know of the past inspire our present priorities. Today we teach our children that they must remember, and we guide them to envision a world that’s worthy of their futures. This is a project that’s best undertaken together.
Days like today are powerful because they demand our presence, our attention, and most of all, our togetherness. Thank you for supporting the Museum, and for helping us undertake the difficult and crucial work of remembering.