Since 2005, the United Nations’ International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27 has commemorated the victims of the Holocaust.
It’s always been a day of remembrance, of collective grief and of honoring the past by bringing it into the present. In a way, this year is no different. But between the Israel-Hamas war and a shocking increase in antisemitic, and anti-Muslim, incidents in the U.S., International Holocaust Remembrance Day is more challenging, complicated and important than ever before, says Lori Lefkovitz, director of the Jewish studies program and Ruderman professor of Jewish studies at Northeastern University.
“We need to keep illuminating what we know and not allow things to go into the shadows because history and truth matter,” Lefkovitz says. “How authoritarianism happens, what fears are exploited to create authoritarian leadership, how those fears are based on lies, what kinds of distortions and what the mechanisms are for creating distortions: These are the things that need to be understood in their details so that we can see them in the present. Part of the work is commemorative, part of the work is preventative, and then the principal thing is to continue to struggle for understanding so that we can appropriately apply lessons to our own moment.”