15 August 2009 - 25 Av 5769 - כ"ה אב ה' אלפים תשס"ט
60 Days for 6 Million Print E-mail

"I should like to remember that there once lived a person named David Berger…" Holocaust victim David Berger in his last letter, Vilna, 1941.

The Jewish community in Hong Kong, through coordination by the Jewish Community Centre Events Committee, began its participation in the 60 Days for 6 Million project. The programme’s launch was held on 11 September, an ominous start date for any project. In the opening addresses the victims of the September 11th terror attacks were remembered.

The date, however, was chosen so that the conclusion of the programme would fall on the anniversary of Kristelnacht, 9 November 1938 when hundreds of synagogues were burned, Jewish businesses were destroyed and widespread violence spread.

Still, the event was an appropriate way to mark the day, just seven years ago, when friends, family and colleagues perished in an act of terror.

The 60 Days for 6 Million is a communal and personal learning programme in which each participant is given a copy of the 60 Days for 6 Million book and a card with a Holocaust victim’s name on it. Every day, for the entire sixty days, the participants read and refl ect on passages that examine various critical ideas on Jewish history, spirituality, thought and philosophy. It is a rich and diverse compilation of essays.

There are a number of key components crucial to the impact and overall meaning of the programme. Firstly, there is the victim’s name. They are no longer a number not one in six million, but a real person that once lived and loved, hoped and dreamed, had friends and family, worked and studied.

The Hong Kong community was asked to choose a card of a victim who was roughly about their own age and to study for them, with them. The cards list only basic information, but additional biographical information can be found on the Yad Vashem website.

The website also provides information on who submitted the information and provides ways to search for their family members as well. The power of attaching one’s study not to a number but a name is invaluable.

For some, they learned that while the person died, their children somehow survived and have had children of their own who have never forgotten their names or their faith. For others, information was submitted by friends or they were merely logged as a victim in a camp’s record books. For these victims, without someone to say Kaddish for them, there is the real danger that they could be forgotten.

The knowledge that the victim you have been partnered with was never given the chance to get married, have children, grow old, study, choose a profession or die with dignity is powerful. The 60 Day programme gives the victims’ back their identity that had been stripped from them when they entered the camps.

The second key component is the power of community. There is the individual victim and then there are the numbers.

While it is possible to commit to studying for sixty days without taking part in a community based project, the force of the message when connected to a community effort is all that more powerful. The community extends far beyond Hong Kong and connects participants with fellow Jews around the world who have also seen the importance of this programme.

We enter this project as the Jewish people who have not only survived, but live and continue to study Torah and to raise Jewish children and grow together in vibrant communities.

The 60 Days for 6 Million project goes to the core of Jewish values in emphasising the importance of education and learning, linking our past, present and future together and recognising the importance of the individual.

I will remember the six million and now I will also remember that there once lived a person named Golda Szulc.

(Issue October 2008) 

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