Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Liturgy of the Word for Yom HaShoah

Yom HaShoah
Holocaust Remembrance Day
Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church
April 15, 2012
Yom HaShoah Guest Speakers at Saint Peter’s Ellicott City

1996 Henry Finklestein, Survivor
1997 The Rev. Robert Patterson, Commission on Christian-Jewish Relations
1998 Rachel Bodner, Survivor
1999 Edith Cord, Survivor
2000 Fred Katz, Survivor
2001 Bluma Shapiro, Survivor
2002 Steven Saltzberg, Son of Survivor Lewis Saltzberg
2003 George Rabinek, Survivor
2004 Leo Bretholtz, Survivor
2005 Sol Goldstein, Liberator
2006 Trudy Turkel, One Thousand Children survivor
2007 Rubin Sztajer, Survivor
2008 Edith Cord, Survivor
2009 Morris Rosen, Survivor
2010 Golda Kalib, Survivor
2011 Rachel Bodner, Survivor
2012 Dr. Werner Cohen, Survivor


Enter in Silence

Narrator: (standing at the reading table)
We are a group of Christians who are moved to make a public witness, in sorrow and soul-searching, in memory of the six million Jewish people whose lives were extinguished during the Holocaust. While this act was carried out by a neo-pagan regime, we believe it was not unrelated to historic Christian attitudes toward Judaism and the Jews. We believe these attitudes have not reflected, but rather have distorted, the spirit and intent of Christ.
We seek to understand better and help in some part to heal the tragic rupture, nearly two millennia ago, between the parent experience of Judaism and the separated career of its giant child, Christianity. We believe that as Christians, we should remember that, not long after its beginning, the Christian church assumed that it was the successor to and displacer of the Jewish faith, and hence could see little reason for the continued existence of Jews except as candidates for conversion to Christianity; that, in alliance with military states, it often sought to coerce such conversions; that, in the same alliance, it segregated Jews, limited their civil rights, and from time to time condoned their persecution; in short, made them a pariah people in Western civilization. Were they not thus ready-made as scapegoats in the design of a desperate dictator?
In allowing and often sanctioning an idolatrous nationalism in their respective countries and many blood wars, Christians had a part in bringing about Naziism itself. While there was still opportunity, this same selfish nationalism, in many countries including our own United States, refused to open its door to the possible rescue of Jews from their fate under their Nazi oppressors until it was too late for six million.
In addition to the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered, at least five million non-Jews were victims of the Nazi regime. These victims included Poles, Slavs, Serbs, Czechs, Gypsies, Greeks, Italians, Russians, Spaniards, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and physically and mentally handicapped people.
Happily, especially since the conciliar statement of Vatican II, Christian views of Judaism are being revised. A new dialogue is opening up between Christians and Jews that today also includes that other people of the book, Islam. Today we ask ourselves as Christians to ponder this whole matter in the spirit of Christ. We seek forgiveness for the transgressions which led, with other evils, to the Holocaust. We strive for justice, reconciliation and peace among all peoples.

Let us Pray:
O God, at this hour of memorial, we recall with loving reverence all of your children who perished through the cruelty of the Holocaust. We pray, Merciful God, that your law, to which your children have borne witness in life and death, shed now a renewed light in our hearts, and that all these martyrs, nameless to us but known to you, shall not have suffered in vain. May their memory be an enduring blessing to all your children. They lie in nameless graves. Their resting places in far-off forests and lonely fields are lost to the eyes of revering kin. Yet, they shall not be forgotten. We take them into our hearts and give them a place beside the cherished memories of our beloved. They are now ours. Amen.

1st reader (standing in place)
“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in the camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to life as long as God himself. Never. - Elie Wiesel, Night
Over one and one-half million Jewish children under the age of twelve lost their lives in the Holocaust. Each one represents a poem not written, a problem not solved, a symphony never composed, laughter never heard, a painting never painted, a book never written, a dream never dreamed, a hope never hoped. . The following poem, “The Butterfly,” was written by Pavel Friedmann, age eleven, while interned in the Terezin Camp.

2nd Reader: (standing in place)
The last, the very last
So richly, brightly, dazzling yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
Against a white stone …

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ‘way up high
It went away I’m sure because it wished to kiss the world goodbye.

For seven weeks I’ve lived in here
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I have found my people here,
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut candles in the court,
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live in here,
In the ghetto.

3rd Reader (standing in place)
Written in Pencil in a Sealed Railway Car
here in this carload
i am eve
with abel my son
if you see my other son
cain son of man
tell him i

Narrator: Bernard Lichtenberg was a priest at the Saint Hedwig Cathedral Church in Berlin. In August 1941, he declared in a sermon that he would include Jews in his daily prayers because “synagogues have been set afire and Jewish businesses have been destroyed.” One evening Monsignor Lichtenberg did not appear at his church. A brief announcement in the newspapers informed his followers that he had been arrested for “subversive activities.” He was sent to prison, and after serving his term, sent to a concentration camp for “reeducation.” A poor student, so far as the Nazis were concerned, the ailing old priest asked to be deported to the Jewish ghetto in Lodz. His plea was ignored. He died November 3, 1943, on the way to Dachau.

4th Reader: (standing in place)
The Reverend Martin Niemoeller, a pastor in the German Confessing Church, spent seven years in a concentration camp. He wrote the following words:
First they came for the communists,
And I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
And I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
And I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
And I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me –
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.

Psalm 130 (read in unison)
1 Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice; *
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
2 If you, LORD, were to note what is done amiss, *
O Lord, who could stand?
3 For there is forgiveness with you; *
therefore you shall be feared.
4 I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him; *
in his word is my hope.
5 My soul waits for the LORD,
more than watchmen for the morning, *
more than watchmen for the morning.
6 O Israel, wait for the LORD, *
for with the LORD there is mercy;
7 With him there is plenteous redemption, *
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

The Holy Gospel: 20:19-31
Then, all standing, the Deacon or a Priest reads the Gospel, first saying
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
People Glory to you, Lord Christ.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

TheThe Gospel of the Lord.
People Praise to you, Lord Christ.


A Litany of Remembrance
v. O God, Creator, Redeemer and Teacher; Source of Life and Truth and Love and Power; In whom we live and move and have our being,
r. Blessed be your Holy Name.

v. Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, whose designs are beyond understanding, whose glory is without blemish, whose compassion for the sin of humanity is inexhaustible,
r. Have Mercy On Us.

v. We affirm that Judaism is a continuing bulwark of faith, that it has not been
superseded by Christianity, that God has not rejected the Jewish people, that the Jewish people have never lost their covenant with God, that salvation is available to the Jews as a covenant people, that the Jews as an historic nation are not responsible for, and therefore not to be blamed for, the death of Jesus, and that Jews should not be pressured to convert to Christianity.
r. May We Remember, Lord, and Never Forget.

v. We state that anti-Judaism in all forms should be universally condemned. We ask forgiveness for past sins and persecutions against the Jewish people. We pray that old barriers to communication and understanding will be removed and that the relationships of the church with the local and worldwide Jewish community will be enhanced.
r. May We Remember, Lord, and Never Forget.

v. O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, we pray that the broken fragments of our world may be restored to wholeness and that the vision of your heavenly city of love, peace and unity may become a reality on earth. And finally we pray for the martyred ones, that their memories may be to us a challenge and an inspiration.
r. Lord, Hear Our Prayer.

v. Exalted, compassionate God, grant perfect peace in your sheltering presence, among the holy and the pure, to the souls of our six million sisters and brothers, men, women and children of the House of Israel who along with five million others were consumed in the Holocaust. May their memory endure, inspiring truth and loyalty in our lives. May their souls and the souls of all the departed rest in peace and be bound up in the bond and covenant of our life with you.
r. May They Rest In Peace.

Narrator: (Returns to reading table)

French author Francois Mauriac offers these reflections upon meeting Eli Wiesel for the first time, just a few years after Wiesel’s liberation from the Auschwitz camps:

“And I, who believe that God is love, what answer could I give my young questioner …What did I say to him? Did I speak of that other Israeli, his brother, who may have resembled him – the Crucified, whose cross has conquered the world? Did I affirm that the stumbling block to his faith was the cornerstone of mine, and that the conformity between the cross and the suffering of men was in my eyes the key to that impenetrable mystery whereon the faith of his childhood had perished? Zion, however has risen up again from the crematories and the charnel houses. The Jewish nation has been resurrected from among its thousands of dead. It is through them that it lives again. We do not know the worth of a single drop of blood, one single tear. All is grace. If the eternal is the Eternal, the last word for each one of us belongs to him. This is what I should have told this Jewish child. But I could only embrace him, weeping.”

5th Reader: (standing in place)
On April 12, 1945, General Dwight David Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, wrote the following words in a letter to George Marshall, his Chief of Staff – describing his first visit to one of the camps liberated by U.S. Forces:

“The things I saw beggared description … The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where there were piled up twenty or thirty naked men killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.’”

Narrator: We light eleven candles in memory of the six million Jewish people killed in the Holocaust and the five million other victims of the Nazi regime. We light candles in memory of all the men, young and old, who perished in the camps – the elderly and infirm who were immediately sent to their death, the young and healthy who were worked to their deaths, to all those who were executed.
We light candles in memory of all the women, young and old, who perished in the camps – mothers who witnessed the deaths of their children, women who risked all to bring new life into the death camps, mothers who had to choose the life of one child over another, or their life over their child’s.
We light candles in memory of the children – of young lives snuffed out before they had a chance to live, dreams never fully dreamt, let alone realized, childhoods cut short.
We light candles in honor and memory of those who survived, who lived through the nightmare and began life anew, those who had the strength to reopen their wounds to share stories with later generations, and those for whom the memory was too painful to bear.
We light candles to honor those who brought the only light to a gloomy world, who brought hope when all was dark. Those who risked their own lives to save a family, a child, one person. Those righteous gentiles, who stood as flickering flames of humanity in the darkest of times. Those who liberated the camps and brought the light of hope and freedom back into the lives of those who survived.
When the candles are lit, the overhead lights will be dimmed for two minutes while we each offer our own prayers in silence.

(Narrator sits down)

Lighting of the Candles
Eleven Candles are lit: six representing the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, and five for the five million others who were lost: the handicapped, gypsies, homosexuals, mentally ill, “minorities” and those few who dared to speak out against or resist the National Socialist Final Solution.

Silence for two minutes

Closing Litany (All Stand)
Celebrant Now in the presence of loved ones and friends
People Before us the symbols and memories of loved ones

Celebrant For the sake of those who died
People We are linking and bonding the past with the future

Celebrant In coming together to remember the victims of the Holocaust we say that all life is sacred
People In lighting candles for six million Jews and five million others we preserve their memory

Celebrant With every light we kindle this morning we pledge ourselves to remember, not once to forget
People And we commit the victims and martyrs to your eternal care, O Lord

Unison Remembering that whether we take the wings of the morning, or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there, Your hand will hold us, and your right hand will guide us.

6th Reader: (Standing inPlace)

"It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet, I keep them because in spite of everything I still believe people are good at heart. I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the approaching thunder, I can feel the suffering of millions, and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right one of these days, that this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals for perhaps the day will come when I shall be able to carry them out."
- Anne Frank

Celebrant The Peace of the Lord be always with you
People And also with you.

Then the Ministers and People may greet one another in the name of the Lord.

Offertory Hymn 696 By Gracious Powers Le Cenacle

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