Progressively Speaking: What’s the meaning of Yom HaShoah today?

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Progressively Speaking: What’s the meaning of Yom HaShoah today?

Senior Reform rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner reflects on the annual day of Holocaust commemoration

Laura Janner-Klausner

Laura Janner-Klausner is a senior rabbi at the Movement for Reform Judaism

Auschwitz Birkenau extermination camp. (Photo credit: PA Wire)
Auschwitz Birkenau extermination camp. (Photo credit: PA Wire)

This week we mark Yom HaShoah, our Holocaust memorial day. In my life, the legacy of the Shoah has been unavoidable. While my grandfather escaped Lithuania aged three, the rest of my family was rounded up with their community and locked inside their synagogue by the Nazis and their collaborators, before the building was burnt to the ground with them inside. Two thousand people died.

With the legacy of the Shoah echoing so loudly in my past, it is perhaps unsurprising I, like many in my generation, tried to distance myself from the trauma. It is easier to try to separate oneself from the nightmare that ripped our families and our communities in half. I only visited Poland for the first time last year with March of the Living UK to confront this scarring memory.

I was blessed to participate in one of our greatest actions of defiance – the same number of Jews as were killed every two days in Auschwitz now celebrating our survival in the very same place.

We don’t have the luxury of hiding from the terrors of the Shoah. We implore one another to ‘never forget’ because there will always be the temptation to unburden ourselves from carrying the weight of our people’s suffering. It is our duty to carry the memories of the six million with us and to stand in defiance of those who spread hate – against us, or any other community.

The date of Yom HaShoah is vitally important. While the UK Holocaust Memorial Day was chosen to coincide with the liberation of Auschwitz, Yom HaShoah was chosen in connection to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, when thousands of Jews chose to take a stand against oppression and against insurmountable odds. This is a date that doesn’t call for passive memory – it calls us to act.

At no time in the 70 years since has it seemed as possible that those who weaponise fear and hate could once again gain power. Around the world, we already see what happens when division is sown: violence, whether against Jews in Pittsburgh or San Diego, Muslims in New Zealand or Christians in Sri Lanka. We say the horrors of the Shoah should never happen again. Yom HaShoah demands we go beyond a slogan and make “never again” a reality for all people.

  •  Laura Janner-Klausner is the Senior Rabbi of Reform Judaism
Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: