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Early Commemoration of the Holocaust at the Shaar

BY CLAIRE BERGER AND HANNAH SROUR

 

Earlier this week we marked Yom Hashoah in commemoration of the Holocaust. It is a common misconception that the world did not know of its horrors until after the fact, but Jewish communities worldwide were constantly sounding the alarm. Among the Shaar Hashomayim’s archives includes a number of sermons given by Rabbi Herman Abramowitz. Recently rediscovered among his papers is a chilling sermon delivered on Yom Kippur in 1941 entitled “The Jewish Tragedy,” in which he addresses the tragedies already wrought upon Europe’s Jews and those which were still ongoing. When speaking about Jews living in Nazi-occupied territories, he writes: “To-day they are no longer heard from; and are as if completely blotted out.” The sermon is powerful and moving, as Rabbi Abramowitz urges the Jewish community to “strengthen the spirit of Jewish loyalty everywhere, as an answer to the challenge of our enemies.”

 

 

In the immediate aftermath of the war, “Holocaust” was one of many terms circulating in reference to the destruction of European Jewry. In those early post-war years, survivors were often referred to as the ‘surviving remnant.’ When the war was finally over, the Shaar held a special service of thanksgiving upon the end of the hostilities, part of the program included a “prayer for the remnant of Israel who survived the Nazi atrocities.” 

 

Read “The Jewish Tragedy” by Rabbi Abramowitz here

 

Program for the Service of Thanksgiving Upon the Occasion of Cessation of Hostilities in Europe 

Friday, December 2, 2022 8 Kislev 5783