Why in the world would a Protestant church in the middle of Los Angeles hold a Yom HaShoah Service (Holocaust Remembrance) during its normal Sunday morning worship service this coming Sunday, April 19, 2015?
Isn’t that a Jewish thing? Actually, no, it’s not just a Jewish thing. The magnitude of the Shoah is such that humanity must never forget it, and with every new generation of people, the task of understanding it is never finished.
There have been many genocides, why remember this one in a Sunday church service? First of all, to remember one thing does not diminish another thing. But in the life of the Church there is a special responsibility for Christians to understand and remember, because so much of the Holocaust was fueled by anti-Jewish ideology and Christian theology.
Isn’t it depressing to think about the Holocaust? Actually, there is great inspiration that comes for the testimony of survivors. The other thing I would say is that there is something so transformative about remembering together, not just on our own, but together as a community of faith.
Do other churches or communities do this? Yes, in fact, they do. Not many but they do. And more churches should, because it’s a great way of reaching out to our Jewish friends and neighbors, as well as helping us to think critically about our own beliefs as Christians.
What will the service be like this Sunday? It will be moving. Inspiring. Meaningful. Jonathan Talberg has selected some lovely music. I will share a few thoughts with the congregation and then invite Rene Firestone, a Holocaust survivor, to share her story.
Let’s Take a Breath for humanity this coming Sunday. Join us at 11 AM in the beautiful sanctuary of First Congregational Church of Los Angeles for what promises to be an unforgettable hour of reflection.