I am pleased to share my latest post to The SHRM Blog on the importance of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The United States Congress created the Days of Remembrance as our nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) is today, Thursday April 12, 2018.
During the Holocaust, more than 11 million human beings were systemically murdered. That includes 6 million Jews, 2/3 of the European Jewish community at that time. That percentage still boggles my mind. In my family, the percentage was much higher.
But the numbers would have been even worse were it not for the countless “righteous gentiles.” The term “righteous gentiles” is used to refer to those who are not Jewish and who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. They are specifically honored in Israel and throughout the world.
On a personal note, I thank the Polish Church that hid my great aunt at their peril. Her daughter later adopted children from that same Church. .
And, of course, there were the millions of American and other service men and women who lost their lives in fighting Hitler’s machine. They, too, cannot be forgotten.
I share this link to one story of their bravery. You can find so many more by using Google.
Unfortunately, this year Yom HaShoah feels more significant than ever, at least to me. Anti-Semitic acts and attitudes are, according to numerous reports, at post-Holocaust highs worldwide.
So what does this have to do with Human Resources? Of course, one connection to Holocaust Remembrance Day is the “human” in human resources. But it is more than just that.
This is not a day or week in which we celebrate the achievement or contribution of any group or people. In remembering the Shoah in our workplaces, we are reminded of how important it is that we brook no hate. It is also a time to recognize those employees whose lives were affected and shaped by this horrific period in history.
One way to do so is simply to post on your Intranet a remembrance statement. You can find words and images all over the Internet. You still have time to do something today.
This is also a great topic for a diversity and inclusion program . The diversity in experience but the universal message that includes all: we cannot tolerate intolerance against any faith, race, ethnicity, etc.
Include in your anti-harassment training examples of Anti-Semetic comments or actions. Of course, this must be in the context of religion harassment more broadly.
And, of course, every day, we must do our best to make sure that hate has no place in our workplaces. A strong policy is not enough. When it comes to hate-based harassment, if you are in human resources or other leader, there is no such thing as a “passive bystander.” To ignore is to be complicit.
As Jews, we often say “Never Again.” And, when we say that, we mean to anyone–at any time–anywhere.