“We remember and remind”
On October 10, 2019, the Jewish Community of Arad marked the National Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Neologue Rite Cemetery. Apart from the members of our community, the His Holiness, Timotei Seviciu, Archbishop of Arad, also participated in the event, along with Călin Bibarț, the mayor of Arad; Adelina Stoenescu, museographer; Kiraly Arpad, Roman-Catholic archpriest of Arad; Czege Emeric, Reform priest; Abraham Erenfeld, the community’s rabbi; Sorin Seviciu, honorary Greek-Catholic archpriest, priest Tiberiu Ardelean and priest Emil Roman.
Prof. Univ. Dr. Eng. Mariana Nagy, dean of the Faculty of Exact Sciences of the “Aurel Vlaicu” University of Arad, Tiberiu Dekany, former deputy mayor of Arad, prof. dr. Marius Grec, director of the Center for Jewish Studies “Academician Nicolae Cajal” at the Western University “Vasile Goldiș” Arad, Emanuel Grec, researcher in Jewish studies, at Heidelberg University, associate professor. dr. Speranţa Milancovici, dean of the Faculty of Socio Human Sciences and Physical Education and Sport, of UVVG Arad, also wanted to be with us. Along with the professors from the University “Vasile Goldiș” came also the prof. Louis Begioni, from the “Tor Vergata” University of Rome, as well as two classes of students with teachers.
“We remember and remind our missing martyrs, humiliated, mocked, killed, in what we call the Holocaust, for us the worst period in recent history. We remember and remember. It is a duty for us. As we mentioned another time, our dead do not ask for revenge, but they force us to take care that their martyrdom is not forgotten. That is why we make these commemorations year after year, ”said Ionel Schlesinger, the president of the Jewish Community of Arad at the beginning of his speech.
He drew a parallel between the case of Alexandra Măceșanu, who shocked the public opinion by arousing emotion, compassion and rebellion and the case of over 6 million people killed in the Holocaust who no longer produce the same emotions. There are people who deny that those events took place, or discuss about the number.
This is why we are obliged year after year to make these commemorations. We do not forget the past but we are not anchored in the past, ” says mister president. He also mentioned the numerous attacks against the Jews that take place on the world map, the last one being the day before the commemoration. In the city of Halle, Germany, on October 9, 2019, a terrorist attack took place at the synagogue where the service of Yom Kippur was held. The attack resulted in two dead and several injured.
“The knowledge of the past is necessary because this knowledge provides us with the necessary elements to know that in any given situation how to act efficiently to take care of such events, so to speak, will not happen now or in the future. All the more, the knowledge of the past is necessary, because we find, with concern, the recrudescence of the anti-Semitic phenomenon, the manifestations of hatred towards the Jews, which lately are more and more numerous. In many countries, Germany, Belgium, France, Holland, frequent physical attacks, not only verbal, against the Jews, be they young, old, children. The governments of these great democracies are not in a position to take effective measures to eradicate this phenomenon. In Germany, the neo-Nazis march without restrain, of course there are those who march against them. Iran, the largest funder of global terrorism, declares, openly proclaiming that they will wipe out Israel from the map. The United States is the only major power that has taken sanctions against Iran. Again, the great European democracies are campaigning to maintain good relations with Iran. This again reminds us of the period of Hitler’s ascension, when still, the great powers would have been able to stop him. Until Hitler had only deal with the Jews there was no problem, but by the time he set fire to the entire planet it was already too late. This is why we really need to be careful about such phenomena, ”explains Ionel Schlesinger.
At each commemoration, both the president and other members of our community talk about how to prevent such misfortunes and how to fight xenophobia. That is why it was an honor to see the students of Mrs. Otilia Huț, Professor of History at Pentecostal High School in Arad and those of Mrs. Ildiko Gal, Professor of History at the “Aron Cotruș” High School in Arad, both Simona Stieger’s collaborators, one of the most passionate History teacher, who participates every year in the events organized by us.
Speaking of the past, the president of the community, Ionel Schlesinger, mentioned two important and topical moments in recent history. The first refers to the Nazi period, when in all Germany it was heard and written “Juden raus, nach Palästina” meaning “Jews out, to Palestine”, and today in the same country is heard “Juden raus aus Palästina”, “Jews out of Palestine. ”
“Most often the hatred against the Jews does not manifest itself directly but manifests itself as acts of delegitimizing the Jewish state and denying the right of the Jewish people to have their own national state. To this end, we often hear from great connoisseurs who, besides football, are well versed in all the other problems of the world, the expression that the Holocaust is what the Jews do with the Palestinians, regarding the conflict in the Middle East. Of course, minimal knowledge in this area would have prevented such an approach. As I think it is known, during the period prior to the Holocaust, the Jews, where they lived, did not stab people on the street, did not set fire to them, did not detonate bombs killing innocents, did not fire rockets at others. Nowadays, in Israel, Palestinians, some, not all, randomly stab citizens in the street, drive into groups of people waiting on the bus, and fire missiles from Gaza strip over Israel. Of course, Israeli security forces, in self-defense, shoot the attackers, and when rockets are fired at Israel, after repeated warnings, the Israelis are forced to attack those targets. Unfortunately, on this occasion innocent people die and the Palestinian people suffer because of the insane leaders they have.
What was the Holocaust? It was an action organized by a state that was aiming to destroy an entire population, those who were to blame for being born Jews. In the Holocaust, half of the world’s Jewish population has died. The Palestinians, at the time of the establishment of the State of Israel, were around 300 thousand. Today, there are over 2 million. Many of them, citizens of the state of Israel with all rights, with representatives in the Israeli parliament, deputies who in the parliament attack the state of Israel and do not recognize it, benefit from all the rights of the citizen, medical aid, social assistance and so on. Israel is receiving rockets from the Gaza Strip, however, delivering water, delivering electricity, medicines and aid to the Palestinian people living in the Gaza Strip. Serious patients from the Gaza Strip are treated in the top hospitals in Israel. Not long ago, the wife of the president of the Palestinian authority, the great enemy of the state of Israel, was treated in an Israeli hospital. See? And yet Jews are accused of doing the Holocaust in Palestine. Clean Holocaust! ”The president says ironically.
There was a moment of silence in the memory of the martyrs. Prayer for the deceased was made by Rabbi Abraham Erenfeld, along with cantor Moris Bor.
“In this context of the commemoration of our martyrs, we affirm that beyond our obligation to ensure that their martyrdom is not given to oblivion, we are aware that we must ensure that neither the present generation nor the next generation will suffer such misery. We never forget to pay tribute to those non-Jews who, in those times of restraint, even endangering their very existence, sought to help their fellow citizens in danger. I must emphasize and express my satisfaction and joy for the very good and warm relations with our Christian brothers in these blessed lands of Arad. We can say that we honor the memory of our martyrs by continuing to be loyal and useful citizens of Romania, while being firm supporters of Israel’s right to be the national state of the Jewish people within secure borders and living in peace with its neighbors, ” Ionel Schlesinger tells us.
At the end of the event, the president and other members of the community thanked the participants of the other cults and ethnic groups for solidarity and exchanged certain impressions with both the officials and the students and teachers present at the event. Some of the visitors wanted to place a stone on the grave of their deceased relatives or friends.
Text and photo
Margareta Vidorka Szegő