Each year, the IHE organizes two different Holocaust Commemoration events in Nebraska:

  •  The Nebraska State Holocaust Commemoration is held each year in the Rotunda of the Nebraska State Capitol Building. Attended by a broad cross-section of the Lincoln community as well as various dignitaries and elected officials, the State Commemoration features music, poetry, a candle-lighting ceremony, and representatives from Lincoln’s synagogues.  The next Nebraska State Holocaust Commemoration will take place on Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 3pm. Our legislative sponsor is Senator Tony Vargas of Omaha, and our guest speaker is Dr. Lana Obradovic from the Political Science Department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Dr. Obradovic came to Nebraska as a refugee from Bosnia.
  • The Omaha Community Yom HaShoah Holocaust Commemoration is held each year, with the location rotating among Omaha's three synagogues. Open to all, Yom HaShoah is marked by readings and music from the local clergy, a Keynote Speaker, a candle-lighting ceremony for Holocaust survivors, and a special program for Jewish teens. The next Omaha Community Holocaust Commemoration will take place on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 7pm at Beth Israel Synagogue. Our guest speaker will be Jeannie Smith.

Jeannie Smith is the daughter of Irene Gut Opdyke, a Catholic, Polish nurse that saved Polish Jews from Nazi Germany. Irene was recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations. 

Jeannie is part of a new generation of Holocaust Speakers who share life stories from their parent's first-hand experiences. 

The story she tells, although filled with the horrors and hate that the Holocaust holds - also brings the message that faith, love, and hope can triumph over evil. It proclaims the conviction that one by one we can say 'no' to hatred, persecution, and prejudice. 

The story speaks of the power of love and encourages the fact that “One person can make a difference!”                         Love is the greatest weapon we have. Hate is easy, it takes real courage to Love.

To learn more about Jeannie and her mother please visit her website: http://www.ireneopdyke.com/ 

The objectives of the annual Holocaust Commemorations are two-fold:

- To remember the 6 million Jews and millions of others who were murdered in Nazi Europe, and all that was lost with them

- To honor the living - those who miraculously survived the Holocaust, their children and grandchildren

The most fitting way to mark Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Commemoration Day) is as a community. This expresses our shared loss - a loss to all of humanity. 

Participants in the commemorations benefit from joining together for a few carefully selected readings and prayers, which create an atmosphere of reflection and contemplation. Seeing the few remaining Holocaust survivors light their memorial candles each year and taking just a short amount of time to mark this occasion allows us to acknowledge our tremendous communal loss, and to move forward with a renewed sense of gratitude and a commitment to building a future without prejudice and genocide.