Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah called today upon the Jewish people to be conscious of the lessons of the holocaust, “the first and foremost of them–that the world around us remains essentially the same. It is still a world of violence and bloodshed and war.”
Another lesson, the Israeli envoy told some 8000 people attending the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising commemoration services at Temple Emanu-El, is that illusions are dangerous. “There should be no illusion about the menaces still confronting the Jewish people. If the Arab states could, they would have brought about our total destruction. Illusions are perilous, whether they come from within ourselves or from outside.”
The commemoration service at Temple Emanu-El was one of numerous services today across the country marking the 31st anniversary of the heroic act of resistance and memorializing the death of six million Jews in the Nazi holocaust. Under clear skies and warm weather thousands lined up the entire block outside the temple here to listen to the ceremony inside broadcast over loudspeakers. Inside, hundreds of memorial candles were lit by Warsaw Ghetto survivors and Jewish school children.
In an address punctuated by emotional and historic references to the continuing and unyielding will to resist oppression and slaughter. Tekoah called upon the audience to “remember and never forget the inhumanity to which the Jewish people has been subjected through the ages. But also remember and never forget our resistance and our redemption. Let the savage crimes of Amalek across the centuries never be obliterated from our memories. But neither should the fact that despite the pain and grief and suffering and cruel bloodshed, our forefathers never gave up, always persevered, always rebuilt and created new life.”
WHY THE HOLOCAUST TOOK PLACE
Recalling the barbarism and merciless bestiality toward innocent children, women and men the silence of the world, and the martyrdom and struggle of the Jewish people who rose from the ashes to live and construct anew. Tekoah declared: “Let us remember and pay tribute, but also learn. The time to wonder how the holocaust could have happened is over. The time to ask why it happened is past. Thirty years and more after the tragedy we know why; we know how.” It happened, the Israeli diplomat stated, “because ours is a world in which cruelty and hatred and brute force are still rampant. It happened because mankind has not freed itself from bloodlust.”
It also happened, he observed, “because the Jewish people was weak, because it was defenseless, because it was disunited. The holocaust took place because there was no Jewish state to stand up for the rights of Jews, to try to protect them, to offer them refuge and shelter.” The holocaust also happened, Tekoah continued, “because we didn’t want to believe that it was possible. It engulfed us because there were too many illusions in the midst of our people, too much complacency and confusion in Jewish leadership.”
FATE OF JEWS DEPENDS ON UNITY
Tekoah stated that Israel shall be untiring in the search for peace but emphasized that “even as we work for peace we are still at war for the life and freedom of our people. It is a struggle not of our choice but unless we face the truth as it is, unless we are ready to cope with reality, grim as it may be, we might find ourselves in situations even more threatening than the Yom Kippur War.”
Israel’s strength to assert its right to exist in the face of certain Arab countries seeking to destroy her “lies in our defense capabilities for which we owe so much to the United States,” Tekoah said. But in the final analysis, he asserted, the survival of the Jewish people is assured by the survival of the Jewish State, and the survival of both the State and the Jewish people is based on the “covenant of the Jewish people. Jewish brotherhood and solidarity, in the redemption of Soviet Jewry, in their liberation and in their union with us. Above everything else our strength lies in our faith and our determination.”
THE WORLD MUST REMEMBER
Benjamin Mead, a ghetto survivor and chairman of the United Commemoration Committee which sponsored the Temple Emanu-El service at which Sen. James Buckley (R/C NY) also spoke, stated that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising “was perhaps the most heroic act of resistance to oppression and hatred in the history of mankind. The ghetto fighters who died in the struggle for their lives and dignity of their people have become a symbol of all six million Jews slaughtered in the Nazi ghettos and concentration camps. The world must remember the heinous crimes committed during the holocaust, and just as importantly, we must remember the heroism of the gallant martyrs in the courageous battle for freedom.”
Other ceremonies included one at the New York High School of Fashion in Manhattan where a large audience was addressed by Prof. Tevya Grol of Paris, who lived in the ghettos of Brest-Litovsk and Kovel and fought as a partisan during World War II, and Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D NY).
In Philadelphia, Ambassador Jacob Doron, deputy head of Israel’s UN Mission, addressed several thousand persons at the Monument to Six Million Martyrs. The parkway, at the site of the ceremony, was closed to traffic and filled with thousands of seats. Benjamin S. Loewenstein, chairman of the Memorial Committee for Six Million Jewish Martyrs, said he had invited all area synagogues and organizations to place wreaths on the monument which was dedicated 10 years ago.
In Los Angeles, a community service was held at Temple Beth Am. The Jewish Community Council of Greater Boston and the New American Association sponsored a service at Brandeis University’s Berlin Chapel. The university’s Hillel Foundation sponsored a Holocaust Week that will conclude Tuesday with a program of lectures, films, panel discussions and religious services at various locations on the campus.
On Friday, Times Square in New York became Warsaw Ghetto Square. Mayor Abraham Beame issued a proclamation renaming the square. In a telegram to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Anniversary Committee and the Zionist Organization of America, which co-sponsored the event, Beame stated that “those who died in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and those who stood to defy insurmountable odds are symbols of an indestructible longing for freedom.” Governor Malcolm Wilson proclaimed Friday as Warsaw Ghetto Day in New York State.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.