Last week’s Holocaust Memorial Day evoked the mortal danger of scapegoating and called us to action. It focused on the Holocaust and other genocides, warning that mass murder begins with dehumanisation.

Scapegoating is now rife. The president of the United States generalised Mexicans as rapists and is currently pushing through a policy to suspend the human right to asylum for refugees from Muslim countries.

Holocaust Memorial Day is all too relevant today. On Yom HaShoah, soon after Pesach, we grieve the devastation of the Jewish people. We insist on resisting the dangerous dismissal of any human. The Holocaust demands we not be bystanders in the face of creeping dehumanisation that can have no end.

What are your red lines and what will you do when they are crossed? If President Trump establishes a register for Muslims what would you do? When did people realise what was happening in Nazi Germany?

You may wonder how something happening to people across the world is your business, and what you can do about it. The Holocaust makes it our business; we do what we can.

There are also concerns closer to home, such as Marie Le-Pen’s election hopes in France and the rise in hate crimes here post-Brexit.

Escaped from Aleppo, a seven-year-old called Bana Alabed wrote an open letter to Trump for those left behind: “I am very sad about them and wish they were with me. Millions of Syrian children are not like me right now and suffering. I am looking forward to what you will do .”

Bana’s letter shows how Holocaust Memorial Day is relevant today, because every human being is made in the image of  God.

When you stand by when a life is taken, you allow a world to be destroyed. The darker the night, the more vigilant the night watchman should become.


υ Benji is Reform Judaism’s Rabbi for Young Adults