International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust

The United Nations has designated 27 January -– the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp — as an annual International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust, and urged Member States to develop educational programmes to instil the memory of the tragedy in future generations to prevent genocide from occurring again, and requested the United Nations Secretary-General to establish an outreach programme on the "Holocaust and the United Nations", as well as measures to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.

Here is a litany of lighting candles for this day.

The Lighting of Memorial Candles
One:     We light candles in memory of those who were killed during the Holocaust. We remember the six million Jews. We remember Poles, people with disabilities, Slavs, gays, lesbians, Gypsies, Soviet prisoners of war, political opponents, religious dissidents, and the others who were killed during this time. We remember those who resisted and those who offered refuge and provided rescue. As we light these candles, we acknowledge our responsibility for one another. We commit that we will build on this earth a world that has no room for hatred, no place for violence. Together, we ask God to grant us strength that we might fulfill that commitment.

(Invite the members of the congregation to stand as representatives of the community light the candles. While they are being lit, the community joins in praying a portion of Psalm 22.)

One:     My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?
why are you so far from helping me,
from the words of my groaning?

All:     O my God,
I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

One:     Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.

All:     To you they cried,
and were saved;
in you they trusted,
and were not put to shame.

(Allow a period of silence. Invite the members of the congregation to sit.)

Inspired by Liturgies on the Holocaust, Marcia Sachs Littell, ed. (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1986)

Read Christians and the Holocaust for more information. This prayer appears in Justice and Peace Shall Kiss: Praying through the Year a book of prayers by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.  Call (800) 524-2612; order PDS 24358-09-001; $3.00 plus shipping and handling.

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