by Gary Javitch
It was likely one of the more moving programs Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle presided over in his office. It took place Wednesday morning, April 18. The community-wide Holocaust commemoration was to be held that evening. Mayor Jim Suttle listened intently to two Holocaust survivors, two rabbis, and seven members of the Jewish community of Omaha. The attendees poured out heart-felt feelings during the eighth annual B’nai B’rith-led proclamation program in the office of Omaha’s top official. It was Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust remembrance for those Jews and others who lost their lives during the period from 1933 to 1945, when the German armies of Adolph Hitler tried to conquer the world and destroy the Jewish people.
The Holocaust survivors and the other members of the group shared their feelings about what this day meant to them. “Never Again” was one theme expressed. Another was the grave concern about the present state of world affairs, as the Iranians continue their march toward the acquisition of a nuclear weapon. The motivation, of course, was the systematic and deliberate attempt by the Nazis to eliminate every single Jew in the world.
Yet at that meeting, there was also a message of hope. One son of a survivor mentioned the appreciation his family had for the courage of a “righteous gentile” family who hid them from the Nazis. The saving of that one life allowed another generation to continue. Using wording prepared by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the mayor had fashioned a proclamation declaring that day “Remembrance Day.” The proclamation was presented later that evening.