International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Area rabbi shares his thoughts

Jan 27, 2023, 9:00 PM
Rabbi Avremi Zippel talks to the crowd during halftime of a Jazz-Portland Trail Blazers game at Viv...
Rabbi Avremi Zippel talks to the crowd during halftime of a Jazz-Portland Trail Blazers game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. Zippel joined Inside Sources on Friday to discuss International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Photo credit: Shafkat Anowar/Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Friday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It marked 78 years since the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz.

Even to this day, the holocaust is a difficult event to remember or discuss. 

Rabbi Avremi Zippel, program director at the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, joined Inside Sources Friday hosted by Marty Carpenter to discuss how this day can be honored.

Carpenter opens by mentioning a survey in the Netherlands, in which 59% of the respondents under the age of 40 did not realize that six million Jews lost their lives. Additionally, Carpenter also mentions that 29% of those in the survey believe the figure is 2 million or less.

Carpenter asks Zippel for his reaction to those numbers.

“If you think about the fact of those six million that were killed during the holocaust,” Zippel said. “How many of those were Dutch citizens?

Zippel talks about how his great aunts and great uncles, all of whom were Dutch citizens. His father grew up without any aunts or uncles. He was the youngest in his family. And his mother had also been the youngest in her family.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is crucial

In light of the Netherlands survey, Zippel says it’s even more important to remember the holocaust.

“And you think about the responsibility that a day like (Friday) brings with it to educate to keep certain realities at the top of mind forever,” he said. “And I think today is a day to commit ourselves to that. To remind ourselves of that obligation and that commitment to make sure that flame does not go out.”

Carpenter said “You’ve been to the concentration camp sites in Europe. I wonder if you could just share with this. What impressed you during those experiences?”

He says one of the concentration camps he and several of his colleagues visited was about 45 minutes from Berlin, Germany.

“But what left the most powerful impact on me was the proximity,” he said. “This was a stone’s throw from a major European city. To get from the train station, where the same train that took us to that part of town were the same tracks that were used to deport Jews from their homes to the concentration camps.”

Zippel says he and his colleagues took the same walk from the town to the train that the prisoners did. He says the walk went past people’s homes and through the center of town.

“And you realize how in front of people it was,” he said. “You realize how this was not happening behind closed doors in some part of the world that no one saw, or no one heard, or no one knew. This was happening in front of people’s noses, and good people sat by and did nothing.”

How to observe

Carpenter asked, “What’s appropriate to sort of observe a day like today?”

Zippel says people from that generation are getting fewer as they are growing old and passing away.

“It becomes our responsibility to become that voice for them,” he said. “And if they’re not going to be able to tell their stories anymore, we need to become their voice. We need to be able to step into that void and tell stories on their behalf. So that their testimony and their voice and their experience never, ever fades away.”

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard on weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Area rabbi shares his thoughts