Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC) gathered together April 11th for a Holocaust “Day of Remembrance” ceremony.

In Judaism Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom HaShoah, and is commemorated at synagogues around the world.

Mr. Gil Kleiner, Executive Director of the Jacksonville Jewish Center, was the guest speaker and made an impression on those in attendance by highlighting the very early days of the Holocaust, and how rapidly things changed for Jewish people living in Germany in the 1930’s.

Soon after Hitler became chancellor on January 30, 1933 he suspended all constitutional protections for the citizens of Germany. The camp in Dachau was opened less than a month later. By April the Nazis initiated a nation-wide boycott of all Jewish-owned businesses, and Jewish people were barred from many jobs and schools. In May, books deemed “un-German” were publicly burned throughout the country. All of this happened within the first five months of Hitler’s chancellorship.

The Ministry of Propaganda produced movies “second only to Hollywood,” Kleiner said, to promote anti-Semitic opinion and “enlighten” school children about the Hitler Youth Movement.

Kleiner also discussed how this campaign against Jewish and other targeted groups throughout Europe escalated and ultimately resulted in people being systematically gathered, sent to camps and killed.

By the end of World War II this campaign resulted in more than 6,000,000 people being killed by Germany and its allies.

The ceremony concluded with a memorial prayer for the dead sung by Cantor Jesse Holzer of the Jacksonville Jewish Center and the lighting of Yahrzeit candles, a common practice in Judaism which honors the anniversary of someone’s death. Sailors from SERMC lit six candles, each representing 1,000,000 murdered Jews.

Kleiner explained to the audience most of those 6,000,000 killed do not have family or friends left who can light a candle to remember them by, so the candle lighting at SERMC honors all of those who suffered and died because of the Holocaust.

The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as our nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust, memorializing the victims of persecution and mass murder.

The SERMC multicultural committee hosts events throughout the year to raise cultural awareness, morale and support understanding.