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The Importance of Holocaust Commemoration

25 June 2008

Commemorating Yom Hashoa

Anton Block, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the peak body of Victorian Jewry, said today:

“The Jewish Community Council of Victoria regards Holocaust remembrance and commemoration as one of its cardinal activities for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it honours survivors and their families who constitute a significant percentage of Victoria’s Jewish community.

Secondly, the Holocaust has become a metaphor for human evil. Thus by virtue of our remembrance, we warn all Victorians of the dangers of indifference to human suffering.

While there are a few who argue that we should let the Holocaust become merely a historical event, the JCCV considers that, for the above reasons, we would be irresponsible in doing so. Today I received an extract from Hansard which strongly and eloquently brought home to me the wisdom of our thinking.

Every year the JCCV organises a Yom Hashoa ceremony to which we invite various dignitaries as well the general public. Amongst the former this year was Ms Jenny Mikakos, MLC for Northern Metropolitan and Parliamentary Secretary, Planning.

Ms Mikakos included the following observations in her statement to Parliament on 27 May 2008 (full text attached):

On 30 April 2008 I had the honour of attending with other parliamentarians a very moving Yom Hashoa commemoration organised by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria….

The most moving part of the evening’s proceedings was the verbal testimony of a number of Holocaust survivors. Their powerful and courageous testimonies reminded all of us present of the immense human suffering [they and others] experienced…. The speakers focused on the importance of ensuring that the message of the Holocaust is not lost to future generations and I think it is essential that young people are educated about acts of genocide.

… Humanity needs to be vigilant and ensure that what occurred during the Holocaust is not repeated. I note in this respect that only this morning Melbourne’s Sudanese community gathered on the steps of Parliament to remind us of the genocide occurring in Darfur.

I congratulate the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the volunteers who organised this year’s Yom Hashoa commemoration.

Ms Mikakos’ heartfelt statement reinforces the importance of continuing the work of Holocaust commemoration and education presently undertaken by the JCCV and other bodies, particularly the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre.

It is a sacred duty owed to past, present and future generations.”

For further information, please contact:

Anton Block 0418 320 417 or Geoffrey Zygier 0413 731 545


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