As we observe Yom HaShoah, we are sharing this message from Joyce Field – a devoted volunteer for more than two decades, and past Vice President of JewishGen. During her tenure, she established the Yizkor Book project, Burial Registry (JOWBR) and Holocaust Collection.
Observing Yom HaShoah within the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic has led me to somber reflection. The isolation we are experiencing has reinforced how important the bonds of community truly are, and that life’s meaning is intertwined with family and community.
But it also made me ever cognizant of the challenges and hardships that families experienced just 75 years ago during the Holocaust. While we are physically isolated, we have the luxury of modern technology to keep us safe, entertained, and in constant communication with family and friends.
In contrast, what strength it must have taken for Holocaust Survivors to endure long periods of isolation, permeated by fear and dread of the unknown, without food, water or anything to keep them occupied.
With these thoughts in mind, I am ever so grateful for having had the opportunity to actively participate in, and lead, JewishGen’s important work for so many years. Every moment was meaningful, infused with purpose, and it provided me with a tremendous sense of community. Most importantly, it allowed me to directly create projects and initiatives which, until this very day, help memorialize the Jewish people who were murdered during the Shoah, and their communities whose culture, customs, history and heritage was nearly eradicated.
The word “Yizkor” means “remembrance.” On this day devoted to remembering the Holocaust, and its victims, please do your share to remember our ancestors. Search the Holocaust Collection, or the burial registry. Read through the translations of Yizkor Books, and make sure that the richness of Jewish communal life before the Holocaust will never be forgotten.
We offer our resources as a public service to the Jewish community, and feature unparalleled access to tens of millions of records, search tools, educational resources and networking opportunities. You can begin your search, or get involved, by visiting www.JewishGen.org.
Taken last year during the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust’s staff commemoration of Yom HaShoah. Right to left: Ruth Mermelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, lights a Yizkor candle with her daughter, Evelyn Orkaby, who is also a gallery educator at the Museum. Jon Rose, a Museum intern, looks on.