BOSTON – On Monday, Jan. 27 – the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – the Massachusetts State House took part in International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with the House adopting a resolution that formally recognized the day being observed in ceremonies at the site of the former Nazi death camp and across the world.
“On this anniversary, the General Court recommits itself to combatting the global rise of anti-Semitism,” the resolution stated.
As part of the resolution, the House also adopted the non-binding definition of anti-Semitism accepted in May, 2016 by 31 member states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, that includes the U.S.
The consulate’s office thanked House Speaker Robert DeLeo, State Representative Ruth B. Balser and the other co-sponsors on behalf of the State of Israel. “Thank you for standing with Jewish communities around the world and for proactively combating anti-Semitism,” the consulate said in a statement.
“As leaders, we are often called upon to lead and educate, something especially essential at this time of rampant anti-Semitism,” said State Representative Lori Ehrlich. “The Holocaust reminds us of the dark capabilities of human nature, so by learning from the past we can prevent hatred from ever getting a such a deadly foothold again. To that end, I’m proud to stand strong with my colleagues from the North Shore and across the Commonwealth.”
In addition, an exhibit that honors global diplomats who rescued Jews during the Holocaust is now on view at the state house through Feb 7. It was organized by the Consulate General of Israel to New England. The exhibit, “Beyond Duty: The Legacy and Lessons of Righteous Diplomats” includes large print panels that detail the heroic measures taken by 34 war time diplomats who have been recognized as Righteous Heroes by Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
The moving display was first unveiled last week at a program for International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Boston University hosted by AJC New England, the Consulate General of Israel to New England and Boston University’s Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies and the college’s program in Holocaust genocide and human rights studies.
Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter surprised some 150 participants, sharing brief personal remarks about the need to remember the Holocaust.
“Standing up against anti Semitism is a duty for all of us,” said the 6’10” NBA player, a human rights activist and outspoken critic of the Turkish government, which has revoked his passport.
“I’m here to support my brothers and sisters,” the recently injured Kanter told the Jewish Journal after the program.
“I am humbled and honored to be part of this important event,” he said. “It’s everybody’s fight. I’m a Muslim person coming here to give my support.”
AJC’s Leikind probed the moral dilemmas of contemporary diplomacy with a panel of Boston-based diplomats that included Federica Sereni, Consult General of Italy; Joao Fins-do-Lago, consul general of Portugal; and, Daniel Agranov, deputy consul general of Israel.
Leikind and others reflected on the courage of diplomats who risked their lives and professional careers to save Jews during the Holocaust.
“They provide a model for us today,” Leikind said.