Monday marked the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The day was selected to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and as Jews and non-Jews paused around the world, we were offered an opportunity to ask ourselves: Has anything changed since the horrors of the Holocaust that would give us hope for the future?
The following letter from David Harris (the CEO of the American Jewish Committee) provides us with a story of hope.This letter helps us see that while hate and anti-Semitism may continue to fester around the world, things have changed in some very important ways over the past seventy-five years. We will seek to embrace some of this hope through music and meditations during our Sabbath worship this Friday night.
75 years ago today, Soviet soldiers liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau and saw with their own eyes the worst of humanity. Today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as antisemitism again rears its ugly head around the world, I want to share a story of hope.
Last week, I was privileged to be part of a historic delegation convened by AJC and the Muslim World League (MWL) that visited Auschwitz. The MWL delegation was led by MWL Secretary General Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa of Saudi Arabia and included 62 Muslims, among them 25 prominent religious leaders, from 28 countries. AJC’s contingent included much of our organization’s senior leadership, as well as our top professionals engaged in strengthening Muslim-Jewish relations. Together we paid respects, reflected, and prayed.
This was the most senior Muslim leadership delegation ever to visit Auschwitz or any Nazi death camp. Many delegates came at no small amount of risk to themselves to be associated with us. But this is only the beginning: our engagement with the Muslim world will only strengthen and grow, buttressed by the historic Memorandum of Understanding signed between AJC and the MWL just a few months ago.
I wish you could have been there to bear witness to Muslim and Jewish leaders praying side by side at Auschwitz. We prayed for the victims of the Holocaust and pledged never to forget. Then the next day, we toured Jewish Warsaw and participated in Jewish and Muslim prayer services, which included a memorable speech by Dr. Al-Issa at Warsaw’s Nozyk Synagogue.
The road before us is not an easy one. Yet, in the place that witnessed humanity at its worst, we saw humanity at its best. And maybe, just maybe, we began to write a new chapter in Muslim-Jewish relations.
None of this would be possible without your support. Thank you for partnering with AJC in remembrance, in hope, and in action toward healing our fractured world.
AJC Chief Executive Officer
Edward and Sandra Meyer Office of the CEO