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“One Night in Auschwitz” – By Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

November 15, 2011

In November 2008, two days after the seventieth anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Archbishop of Canterbury and I led a mission of leaders of all the faiths to Auschwitz: not just Jews and Christians but also Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians and Bahai. It was a moment of intense theological resonance. Faiths that had been estranged for millennia had come together in friendship and respect, and had opened their arms to the other in an embrace of human solidarity.

As we stood together in Auschwitz-Birkenau that chill November night, at the end of the railway lines that carried more than a million victims to be gassed, burned and turned to ash, lighting candles and saying prayers together, we knew to the core of our being where hate, unchecked, can lead. We cannot change the past, but by remembering the past we can change the future. And though we cannot bring the dead back to life, we can help ensure that they did not die in vain. We must fight hate, whoever is the hater and whoever the hated: for the sake of the victims, for the sake of our children and for the sake of God, whose image we bear.

(Jonathan Sacks, Future Tense: Jews, Judaism, and Israel in the Twenty-first Century [Schocken, 2010], page 88. The title for this posting is the heading for the last portion of Chapter 4 in the book, from which this quote is taken. It was read by Doreen Peters at both of our November 13 Services.)

The artwork at the top of this posting is “Full Moon Over Auschwitz,” a 2010 painting by an artist named Van Stein.

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