The 68th annual Holocaust Memorial Service, held Sunday, April 7, in Skokie, certainly was about remembrance and the past.
But it also was about the future - about whether the messages of the Holocaust would survive once the survivors are gone. About who, when no one remains to offer first-hand testimony, would remind the world what hate can do when even the most modern, most civilized, most educated societies do nothing to stop it.
And so it falls increasingly not just to the survivors, but to their children and grandchildren, to carry those messages.
At the service, several of them did just that. Excerpts of some of their speeches are offered here:
Roey Gilad, Israel's Consul General to the Midwest
Today I would like to speak about what I consider to be a great challenge to all of us. This ceremony today is organized indeed by Sheerit Hapleitah— the Holocaust Survivors. However, In 20 years or so there will be no living witnesses to the Holocaust. The candles will be lighted by the children or the grand children of the survivors. There will be no one to tell the story. Nobody to say: "I have been there. I have seen the inferno in my own eyes"…. Read more
Yaakov Katz, a Chicago-area native and the military correspondent/defense analyst for the Jerusalem Post
I was only six years old but I remember the day like it was yesterday. We knew it was special and my mother got us dressed in our nice outfits, the ones usually reserved for going to synagogue on Shabbat, and we had to wear our rain coats.
27 years ago, on a rainy April 8, 1986, I had the privilege of standing not far from here, on Oakton Street, together with a group of several hundred others, many of you in the audience here, to break ground for the Holocaust monument which stands there today. Read more
Stephanie Sklar, Director of Domestic Affairs for JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council
I stand before you today not only as a representative of the Jewish United Fund, but also as the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. My grandfather, Abraham Borenheim, and my grandmother, Gusta Berghut Borenheim, both of blessed memory, are no longer with us and since they could not be here today, I stand here to honor them. They were the only survivors in each of their respective families, so I also stand here in the shoes of their parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, spouse and children whose lives were so brutally taken for nothing other than their religion. Read more
Matthew Silberman is a senior at Ida Crown Jewish Academy
"My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish." These were among the final words of Daniel Pearl, an American journalist, before he was murdered by the terrorists who kidnapped him, in Pakistan, in 2002. He was killed, in part, for a reason we know all too well: he was a Jew. And yet, with his last breaths, he affirmed the deep Jewish pride that his parents instilled in him.
Just like Daniel Pearl, I am proud to be the Jewish son of two Jewish parents. And I am proud to be the grandson of four grandparents, all of whom were Holocaust survivors. Read more