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Holocaust Remembrance Day 2022

Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 21, 2022

January 27 marks Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day established worldwide by the United Nations, and commemorates the liberation from the Auschwitz death camp and to honor the victims of Nazism. On this day and every day, we should remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and affirm our promise to never let this happen again. The 2022 theme of “Memory, Dignity and Justice”, encourages the accurate writing of history and challenges Holocaust denial and the distortion of history often seen in antisemitism.

Seventy-seven years ago, the carnage of Holocaust concentration camps came to an end as the world discovered the full scope of the Nazi's actions against Jewish people and other minorities in Eastern Europe. During the Holocaust, six million Jews died, leaving an entire community of people divided and forever damaged. In 1933, prior to the Holocaust, the Jewish population of Europe was about 9.5 million, by 1950, the Jewish population in Europe was about 3.5 million. This terrifying event serves as a reminder of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism, and prejudice. 

Violence or prejudice explicitly aimed at Jewish culture is known as Antisemitism. The leading global Jewish advocacy organization, American Jewish Committee (AJC), released it’s annual report, State of Antisemitism in America 2021, presenting data on how American Jews and the general public view antisemitism in the U.S. The study's findings reveal that 90% of American Jews feel antisemitism is either a very serious or somewhat of a problem compared to only 60% of non-Jewish Americans. Additionally, the report highlighted that while 82% of American Jews believe antisemitism has increase in the US over the past five years, only 44% of non-Jewish Americans believe this to be the case. From this survey, it is obvious that the issue of antisemitism is prevalent and further education is required on this subject. Just this week, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and members of his congregation were taken hostage in Colleyville, TX.

In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) created a working definition to define Antisemitism. Having a universal definition affords the ability to recognize when anti-Semitic sentiment occurs. We will learn more about this universal definition in the ensuing months and how we may make use of this as an educational tool to facilitate counter-antisemitism training.

Unfortunately, we have seen a resurgence of hatred worldwide in the form of attacks on religious institutions and the proliferation of extremist groups. Additionally, there are conflicts still existing in the world that meet the definition of genocide, which further highlights the need for Holocaust education. 

Take Action:

For additional education and personal development related to diversity, equity and inclusion, the following resources are available: DEI Education and Resources, DEI & Antiracism Resources from the UNC Libraries, the Education Equity Toolkit from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and the UNITE workshops for faculty, staff, and students.