Although we have an official Yom HaShoah, today, this evening my mother will be lighting dozens of Yahrzeit (memorial) candles in memory of what she and my father experienced some 65 years ago this evening and in memory of the 38 members of our family who were murdered during the Shoah.
Times were very bad for Jews in Germany prior to 9-10 November 1938, but Kristallnacht (as it became know) was the real beginning of the Shoah. When my father rushed out of his home in the middle of that night in his pajamas to the burning synagogue in the small town of Norden in northwest Germany, the police arrested him on the charge of possessing a weapon and for arson.
My father's family had lived in that town for over 400 years and the people who arrested him and other Jews and subjected them to hours of beatings were people he had grown up with and whom he knew well. He was shipped to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp near Berlin and the next day, all the Jewish women in town and elderly men were mentally and physically abused while being forced to clean up the remains of the completely destroyed synagogue.
As we struggle today against the forces that once again make anti-Semitism acceptable, we must remember and remind our children and all those we know what happened 65 years ago so that it may never happened again.