The Rabbinical Alliance of America—Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis—observes the increasing behavior of prominent politicians, community leaders and media personalities of using the Holocaust as a reference and comparing to Nazi atrocities a variety of contemporary issues such as lockdown measures, reactions to Covid and the attack on the Capitol. Many times, the people making these comparisons may not be aware of the pain and hurt caused by these comments and comparisons.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America stated, “The Holocaust is defined as destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire. The Nazi Holocaust was an act of genocide, which is the intentional action to destroy a people in whole or in part. The word geno-cide combines the Greek word for race or people and the Latin suffix for killing.
“Tragically, the world has witnessed multiple genocides. The most notable act of genocide was the Holocaust, in which the Nazis (may their memory be erased) killed one-third of the world’s Jewish population and traumatized the world in general and the surviving Jews in particular. The Nazi brutality continues to haunt the world in its utter lack of humaneness and compassion. Comparisons to these atrocities conjure up feelings of pain and anguish in the Jewish community and all communities affected by the Holocaust. This is especially so to the elderly survivors and their next of kin who cringe in pain when they hear these comparisons. Additionally, comparing the Holocaust to lesser crimes diminishes the Nazi sins against humanity by glossing over the sheer brutality of Nazi atrocities.
“We live in an age of diversity and multiculturalism. America is the land of freedom and democracy. People in positions of influence must be careful, when referencing the Holocaust, to do in a way that does not diminish the crimes against humanity. Sadly, anti-Semitism, racism, hate and bigotry are on the rise. We must be careful to speak and act in culturally sensitive ways and to make certain that what we say should not blow the flames of hate.
“Therefore, the Rabbinical Alliance of America requests that we, as rabbis, engage in educating the public in how we must speak carefully in everything that we say and we must, in particular, refer to the Holocaust in ways that do not cause pain nor cheapen the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.”