Today is an annual day of commemoration known in Israel as Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a chance to honor the memory of 6 million Jews murdered during World War II and to continue the commitment to never forget the degradation, dehumanization, torture, death and rise of fascism during Nazi Germany.
Jacksonville Holocaust survivor Morris Bendit said his life’s work has been educating today’s generation about the Holocaust. He was only an infant when his father was killed by the Nazis.
“When I was 2 months old, the Russians drafted my father to fight the Nazis. Two months later he was killed by Nazi bombers. The Germans and the Romanians together invaded us. They created a ghetto for us and 10 months later, we were taken away to the largest killing field in the Holocaust,” he said. “Two-thirds of my family did not survive. They all died of cold and disease.”
Despite the atrocities of the Holocaust, there are still people today who refuse to believe that the Holocaust ever happened.
“The only way I can think of at this moment is to keep talking about it, speak about it, show the images of what happened,” Bendit said, “At this moment in Europe, there is a greater, larger, anti-Semitism than before World War II. Now that is scary, so we have to keep talking about it.”
It’s also one of the main reasons Bendit created the Holocaust Memorial Wall at the Jacksonville Jewish Center. It’s the only one between Miami and Atlanta.
“After a few years of speaking to youth and adults, I realized that I won’t be here forever to speak,” he said. “I have to leave something behind me to continue the mission. So I created the wall—it is made out of stone—so to speak it will remain hopefully for many, many years and teach others what happened and never again it should happen.”
The Jacksonville Jewish Center is hosting two virtual events to remember the victims of the Holocaust. They are open to all in the community. The first is at 7 p.m. Wednesday The names will be read from the Yad Vashem memorial list. Yad Vashem is the memorial in Israel. Then Sunday a virtual event that includes reading of traditional prayers and an interactive discussion. For more information go to the Jacksonville Jewish Center’s website.