Holocaust Remembrance Day 2015: Poems, Quotes, & Prayers

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Scene of the candles used in the candlelighting ceremony held to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day at Walter Kerr Theatre on April 21, 2009 in New York City. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images for O&M Co.)

Yom HaShoah is the Jewish holiday dedicated to memorializing the Holocaust. Find words of inspiration and reflection in this day for the victims of Nazism, which included not only Jews but Russians, homosexuals, and the physically and mentally handicapped.

1. “That I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write, to have toast and tea and live my life – that is what is abnormal.” – Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and author of Night

2. “Jews survived all the defeats, expulsions, persecutions and pogroms, the centuries in which they were regarded as a pariah people, even the Holocaust itself, because they never gave up the faith that one day they would be free to live as Jews without fear.” – Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth

3. “Lord, remember not only the men of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember rather the fruits we have brought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have bourne be their forgiveness.” – Anonymous, “Prayer for Yom HaShoah”

4. “We played, we laughed
we were loved.
We were ripped from the arms of our
parents and thrown into the fire.
We were nothing more than children.
We had a future. We were going to be lawyers, rabbis, wives, teachers, mothers. We had dreams, then we had no hope. We were taken away in the dead of night like cattle in cars, no air to breathe smothering, crying, starving, dying. Separated from the world to be no more. From the ashes, hear our plea. This atrocity to mankind can not happen again. Remember us, for we were the children whose dreams and lives were stolen away.” – Barbara Sonek, “Holocaust”

5. “Here in this carload
I am Eve
With my son Abel
If you see my older boy
Cain son of Adam
Tell him that I…”
– Dan Pagis, “Written in Pencil in the Sealed Freightcar”

6. “Yet, nearly 6 decades after the Holocaust concluded, Anti-Semitism still exists as the scourge of the world.” – Eliot Engel, U.S. Representative for New York’s 16th Congressional District

7. “We come out of Jewish-refugee, Holocaust stock, which means that our predecessors fled and we learned that systems of power are vulnerable to corruption and can treat the defenseless in a destructive fashion.” – Eugene Jarecki, American author


8. "From the crematory flue
A Jew aspires to the Holy One.
And when the smoke of him is gone,
His wife and children filter through.
Above us, in the height of sky,
Saintly billows weep and wait.
God, wherever you may be,
There all of us are also not."
ā€” Jacob Glatstein, trans. from Yiddish by Chana Faerstein

9. “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” – Psalm 50:15

10. “The search for a Jewish national home came about due to centuries of anti-Semitic pogroms, expulsions, discrimination and hate. The Holocaust was simply the evil culmination of all that came before it.” – Edgar Bronfman, Sr., Canadian-American Businessman and Philanthropist