I am so proud of all of you that are going to Poland this summer with Yad b’Yad. You are joining the hundreds of thousands of Jewish youth who have gone to Auschwitz to remember this dark period of our history.
Your willingness to share in these memories gives me comfort.
What you see will help you understand why we say “Never Again.” For there is darkness in the human soul, and we must never forget.
The cruelty of what you will see is stinging. It is hard to believe. You will weep many tears, as we have.
Please remember with pride the sacrifices that your people made just for being Jewish. Walking through Auschwitz will stir deep empathy for our people. It will ignite in you a passion for your Jewish heritage that will surprise you.
You will see why I have been so concerned about anti-Semitism and the importance of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.
You will appreciate even more your father and your grandfather fighting so hard for this country. You will probably want to serve in the army when you come home.
This is a difficult journey. The images are not easily forgotten.
Take time to reflect.
You will get angry when you see what happened to your people. You may even feel hatred towards Germans. I have felt it.
Some hold on to it. Jews need anger in order to survive, they say.
But that is not what I want you to remember.
Remember that we have survived. Remember that through the darkest hours of human history our people have not been destroyed.
Remember that our traditions teach us that there is life after death, not only hatred. “L’chaim” is the hope of our people. Hope is our strength, not anger.
As you contemplate the sorrows of our suffering look for the determination in your heart to work for a better world. Believe that you can make a difference. Resist the despair that threatens to darken your way.
There is always light, even if only a candle.
I lit a candle when I was there. In hope it might shed some light over a bridge we must build together through the troubled waters of our painful story.
I lit it for you, our children and grandchildren to find a way out of this lament. I lit it in hope that we will find our way, together, through the shadows of this death valley, to compassion and hope.
And I lit my candle together with my new German friends, who walked with me through Auschwitz. Together we light a hope for a future where you, our children and theirs, will find a way out of the darkness and shame.
I light it for a day when we will all say together, “Never Again.”
Light a candle when you are there. We are so proud of you.