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.
- 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 Ela Weissberger.
Ela Weissberger and her family were sent to Terezin, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia when she was 11 years old. Terezin was a unique camp that held many artists, musicians, and children. The Nazis used the camp as a tool of propoganda for the public, showing a community complete with a coffee house, school for children and performances. Among those performances was the opera, Brundibar. Ela was one of the children prisoners to perform the opera for visitors. For more information on Brundibar watch this clip from "60 Minutes".
The objectives of the annual Holocaust Commemorations are two-fold:
- To remember the 6 million Jews 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.