On Jan. 27, 1945, the Soviet Union’s Red Army liberated Jewish prisoners from the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. The day marked the beginning of the end of the Holocaust, as many other camps were liberated in the months leading up to the end of World War II later that year.
Sixty years later, to acknowledge the anniversary, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring Jan. 27 to be International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The resolution “urges member states to develop educational programs that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide,” according to its text.
In Philadelphia, various organizations are trying to do their part. Here’s a list of some remembrance events that they are holding this year.
Rebuilt from Broken Glass
Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m.
Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History
General Admission: $16
Gratz College and the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall are screening the documentary “Rebuilt from Broken Glass,” based on the memoir by Voorhees, New Jersey, resident and Holocaust survivor Fred Behrend. Behrend will be there to take questions after the screening alongside director Larry Hanover.
Then They Came For Me: The Legacy of Martin Niemoller
Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m.
The Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Jewish Community Relations Council are hosting a talk with Professor Matthew Hockenos of Skidmore College in New York State about his book on Niemoller, “The Pastor Who Defied the Nazis.” According to an email from the foundation, Niemoller was “an early supporter of the Nazis” who became “a fascinating example of the capacity for change, growth and personal reflection.”
Subscribe to the mailing list on philaholocaustmemorial.org to find the Zoom link for the event in the latest edition.
Friday, Jan. 27 at noon
The Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council, the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation and 3G Philly are hosting a conversation with Rabbi Adi Rabinowitz Bedein, a Holocaust educator from Israel, according to a Jewish Federation email. “The memory of the Holocaust is facing a serious challenge as it must remain both relevant and personal, so that the younger generations will keep it alive,” the email said.
A link can be found on the Jewsish Federation’s website at jewishphilly.org.
“At a time when antisemitism and extremism are both on the rise, remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust and its victims must not be forgotten lest we be doomed to repeat it even more,” said Michael Balaban, the president of the Jewish Federation. “Jewish Federation is offering two discussions to help remember those we lost and what we can learn from the Holocaust.”
International Holocaust Remembrance Day Shabbat Service and Performance
Friday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m.
Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
KI’s adult and teen choirs will join with the adult choir of Or Hadash to perform the music of Theresienstadt. The Nazi-imposed Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia became known later on for its remarkable story about Jewish prisoners who created, played and danced to music during their captivity. Richard Bank, a “second-generation speaker,” as he’s described on a flyer for this event, will also give a talk at KI on Jan. 27.
The Brandywine Singers Perform James Whitbourn’s Annelies
Sunday, Jan. 22 at 4 p.m. at Christ Church Christiana Hundred in Wilmington, Delaware
Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at Kesher Israel Congregation in West Chester
As a recent Kesher Israel Facebook post explains: “Annelies is a 75-minute chamber choral work for soprano soloist, choir and instrumentalists. The libretto is compiled and translated by Melanie Challenger from ‘The Diary of Anne Frank.’ ‘Annelies’ is the full forename of Anne Frank, now commonly referred to by her abbreviated forename.”
Both performances are to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, according to the same Facebook post.
Yom HaShoah, Israel’s national holiday commemorating the Holocaust, comes annually in the spring on the 27th of Nisan according to the Hebrew calendar. This year, that date falls on April 17 and 18. Several institutions in the Philadelphia area are planning events for that day as well. It is often referred to as Holocaust Remembrance Day. ■