by Ariel Shilitz

If we held a moment of silence for every victim of the Holocaust, we would be silent for eleven and a half years. I am a student, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a Jew, and I am a witness, a witness to a survivor. On this Yom HaShoah, we remember the horrors of Nazi persecution. This day we remember the 6 million Jews who were systematically murdered along with gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally ill.

Why am I a witness? Because I sat with my grandfather, a survivor, and heard first hand his account of his time in the Lodz Ghetto where both of his parents died and then his transit to Auschwitz, the place of liquidation. He told me of his daily struggle to survive. I witnessed the pain that never left his eyes. As the horrors of what he witnessed and lived through never left him. He was one of the lucky ones who walked out of Auschwitz with his brother, leaving so many souls behind.

My grandfather’s story was the story of all too many grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, who are now no longer alive to share their story. We must take this day to recommit to remember their stories, their faces, and their pain. Zachor – Remember.

We were taught to learn from the past so we don’t repeat what came before us. We must be vigilant, we must continue to learn and not be complacent. We must shout NO and work towards a better tomorrow. We all are a witness today to the horrors that are taking place all over the world: Ethiopia, Sudan, Syria, the Congo, Burma-Myanmar, Nigeria, and Chad, it goes on and on. The news of another Genocide is a daily headline – will it never end?

We must rekindle a light of remembrance within our souls and keep it lit as we go forward into our daily lives. That light must fuel us to tell the stories, be a witness as we fight against injustice. And always REMEMBER.