YOM HASHOAH 2024

Dear HGI Supporters,

Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, begins tonight May 5th, marking the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and serving as a memorial day for the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis. This year, as the Israel-Hamas war enters its seventh month, the day takes on added symbolism: It is the first Yom HaShoah since Hamas’ Oct. 7 onslaught, which was the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust.  It has been a challenging time for many of us, especially students in our country on various campuses around the country.  We would like to pause and remember that under the clamor of politics, we must commit to our interfaith solidarity and respect. Today, we observe prayers, revisit history, and remember the millions of Jews who are thinking of their grandparents, brothers, sisters, children, and other family members who were murdered.  

Yom HaShoah, which was first observed in Israel in 1951 and became enshrined into law later in the decade, is viewed by many Jewish communities around the world as their primary day for Holocaust remembrance. We at the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College want to express our deep commitment to the Lessons of the Holocaust and our continual support of our Jewish community on this remembrance day.  

We also want to extend our wishes to our Christian Orthodox communities marking their Easter today.  As we remember Yom Hashoah, we also remember the many Christian Orthodox rescuers who rescued their lives to save Jewish lives.   Some who include: 

Damaskinos, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece

“I have made my cross, have spoken with God, and decided to save as many Jews.”

The leadership role of the high-profile head of the country’s Greek Orthodox Church, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Damaskinos, was unprecedented in Europe. Not hiding behind the cowardly “neutrality” of his counterparts at the Vatican and other European churches, Damaskinos openly and unabashedly opposed the deportation of the Jews of Greece and took drastic, and sometimes life-threatening measures to fulfill his mission.

Joachim, Metropolitan of Volos

“I am a Jew”


On September 30, 1943, the Jewish New Year, the chief rabbi of the central Greek city of Volos was ordered to report to the German military leader, Kurt Rikert, and submit a list of the names of the city’s Jewish community within 24 hours. At the time, there were 872 Jewish residents.

The rabbi turned to his friend, Metropolitan Joachim (Alexopoulos) who presided over the Greek Orthodox flock of the region and didn’t even blink an eye when asked to help.

Chrysostomos, Metropolitan of Zakynthos

”I will march together with the Jews straight into the gas chamber.”

Of course, there is also the timeless survival story of the ONLY Jewish community in all of Europe that didn’t lose a single soul during the Holocaust, on the Greek Island of Zakynthos— thanks to the efforts of the Metropolitan Bishop of the island, Chrysostomos.

At a time of the highest increase of Antisemitism, we want to remind our community that the Center is a voice that stands against Antisemitism.  We reflect on the 6 million lives murdered because so many failed to intervene in one of the cruelest moments of history. 

(https://orthochristian.com/90082.html)

Let us educate our future generations, and continue challenging conversations, and our commitment to the Lessons of the Holocaust.  I share Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks prayer for Yom Hashoah:

Today, on Yom HaShoah, we remember the victims of the greatest crime of man against man – the young, the old, the innocent, the million and a half children, starved, shot, given lethal injections, gassed, burned and turned to ash, because 

they were deemed guilty of the crime of being different.

We remember what happens when hate takes hold of the human heart and turns it to stone; what happens when victims cry for help and there is no one listening; what happens when humanity fails to recognise that those who are not in our image are none the less in God’s image.

We remember and pay tribute to the survivors, who bore witness to what happened, and to the victims, so that robbed of their lives, they would not be robbed also of their deaths.

We remember and give thanks for the righteous of the nations who saved lives, often at risk of their own, teaching us how in the darkest night we can light a candle of hope.

Today, on Yom HaShoah, we call on You, Almighty God, to help us hear Your voice that says in every generation:

Do not murder.

Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbour.

Do not oppress the stranger.

We know that whilst we do not have the ability to change the past, we can change the future.

We know that whilst we cannot bring the dead back to life, we can ensure their memories live on and that their deaths were not in vain.

And so, on this Yom HaShoah, we commit ourselves to one simple act: Yizkor, Remember.

May the souls of the victims be bound in the bond of everlasting life. Amen.

About HGI

The Center’s mission is to promote Jewish-Catholic-Muslim “discussion and collaboration.”

Our goal is to help eradicate human suffering, prejudice, and racism through education. We condemn all violence in the name of race, religion, ethnicity and gender. The Center’s principal sphere is education and is committed to understanding and respecting differences and similarities between people of all religions, races, ethnicities and nationalities. Its focus remains the lessons of the Holocaust, which are essential to educating future generations in order to combat prejudice, genocidal ideologies, apathy and Holocaust denial.