Why Holocaust Remembrance Still Matters

I am pleased to share my latest post from the SHRM blog in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The United States Congress created the Days of Remembrance as our nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. This year, Holocaust Remembrance Days (Yom HaShoah) is today, Wednesday May 4, 2016. http://www.ushmm.org/remember/days-of-remembrance

During the Holocaust, more than 11 million human beings were systemically murdered. That includes 6 million Jews, 2/3 of the European Jewish community at that time. That percentage still boggles my mind. In my family, the percentage was much higher.

But the numbers would have been even worse were it not for the countless “righteous gentiles.” The term “righteous gentiles” is used to refer to those who are not Jewish and who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. They are specifically honored in Israel and throughout the world.

Today, I share with you links to some of their stories: https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/stories/. Please read about these heroes. Their stores are beyond inspiring.

On a personal note, I thank the Polish Church that hid my great aunt at their peril. Today, her daughter is one of my closest friends.

And, of course, there were the millions of American and other service men and women who lost their lives in fighting Hitler’s machine. They, too, cannot be forgotten.

I share this link to one story of their bravery. You can find so many more by using Google.

So what does this have to do with Human Resources? Of course, one connection to Holocaust Remembrance Day is the “human” in human resources. But it is more than just that.

This is not a day or week in which we celebrate the achievement or contribution of any group or people. In remembering the Shoah in our workplaces, we are reminded of how important it is that we brook no hate. It is also a time to recognize those employees whose lives were affected and shaped by this horrific period in history.

One way to do so is simply to post on your Intranet a remembrance statement. You can find words and images all over the Internet.

This is also a great topic for a diversity and inclusion program. The diversity in experience but the universal message that includes all: we cannot tolerate intolerance against any faith, race, ethnicity, etc.

And, of course, every day, we must do our best to make sure that hate has no place in our workplaces. A strong policy is not enough. When it comes to hate-based harassment, if you are in human resources or a manager, there is no such thing as a “passive by-stander.” To ignore is to condone.

As Jews, we often say “Never Again.” And, when we say that, we mean to anyone–at any time–anywhere.

Shalom (Peace) to all.