Reflecting On The Work Of JewishGen #yiddish
24 Nissan 5778
Dear JewishGen Family,
This week presents meaningful opportunities to reflect on the significance
of JewishGen's purpose, work, and values.
Today marks 50 years since the funeral of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
the tireless champion for human rights. On December 11, 1966, Dr. King
delivered a powerful speech in support of the oppressed Jews of the Soviet
Union. His message bears remembering:
"... [Jews in the Soviet Union] may not be physically murdered as they were
in Nazi Germany, [but] they are facing every day a kind of spiritual and
cultural genocide. Individual Jews may be in the main physically and
economically secure in Russia, but the absence of opportunity to associate
as Jews in the enjoyment of Jewish culture and religious experience becomes
a severe limitation upon the individual.
"These deprivations are a part of a person's emotional and intellectual
life. They determine whether he is fulfilled as a human being ... When you
are written out of history as a people, when you are given no choice but to
accept the majority culture, you are denied an aspect of your own identity
... Ultimately, you suffer a corrosion of your self-understanding and your
(The entire speech can be read here: https://tinyurl.com/y964kncp)
[original URL: http://www.beliefnet.com/news/2000/01/negroes-can-well-understand-king-in-his-own-words.aspx#6iMcFUzK1A4XMBYW.99]
As you know, Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) begins at nightfall on
Wednesday evening, April 11. In the State of Israel (which will soon
celebrate its 70th birthday), a siren will be blown at nightfall and then
again the next morning -- uniting men, women and children in silent
reflection of the catastrophe which ended less than 75 years ago.
Here in NYC, the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the
Holocaust (of which JewishGen.org is an affiliate) hosts a series of
commemorations, and provides multiple opportunities for people of all ages,
from all walks of life, to internalize the loss, and to take meaningfulsteps to preserve our collective Jewish history and legacy for the future.
Yesterday, nearly 3,000 people attended the Museum's Annual Gathering of
Remembrance. Speaking to a diverse audience, which included a large number
of Holocaust Survivors, Museum President & CEO Mr. Michael Glickman
articulated not only the reason for establishing the Museum, but also what
motivates its continued purpose. He stated, in part:
"Commemorations like the Annual Gathering of Remembrance are powerful
because they demand our presence, our attention, and most of all, our
togetherness. They challenge us to think of how we carry not only our
personal, individual histories, but also the history of our people. The
weight of this history can feel like a burden, but when the burden is
shared, it becomes an important lesson in what we mean to each other ...
When a survivor tells her story, she reasserts the very humanity and
dignity that the Nazis attempted to destroy."
(The entire speech can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/263766364)
These thoughts and sentiments motivate the staff and volunteers at
JewishGen on a daily basis. We take heed of Dr. King's words so many
decades ago, and of Mr. Glickman's just yesterday. We are not content
merely connecting researchers with ancestral information -- our sacred
work revolves around our ability to transmit the legacy of the Jewish
people in a way that will ensure its preservation for future generations.
As we continue to participate in Holocaust Commemorative programming, I
thank you for being part of the JewishGen.org family, and for supporting
our critical work.