Holocaust remembrance service comes at time antisemitism is on the rise

Published: May. 1, 2022 at 3:47 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - On Sunday, Atlanteans took time to remember a difficult time when Nazis started killing Jewish people in what would become the largest genocide in history.

Even though the Holocaust took place over 80 years ago, persecution and hatred toward Jewish people still remain and have even increased in some places.

“I think it’s really important for everyone to know that when hate goes awry, what can happen. You can’t say, ‘it’s okay, it’s okay.’ It’s not okay, and we need to learn to stand up to hate. We need to learn to not be a bystander,” said Karen Lanksy Edlin, the president of Eternal Life-Hemshech.

Atlanteans gathered at Greenwood Cemetery for Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Survivors, their families, and Senator Jon Ossoff reflected on the violence against Jews by the Nazis.

“My father was Jewish. Not only was that bad in the war, but he was also very big in the underground,” said Holocaust survivor Bebe Forehand. “We hid in another neighborhood in my hometown, Antwerp, Belgium, for three and a half years,”

“As that generation departs us, this work of remembering becomes ever more vital,” said Senator Ossoff.

An especially important task as anti-Semitic acts of violence increase. Incidents reached an all-time high in the U.S. last year, with over 2,700 incidents of assault, harassment, and vandalism reported to the Anti-Defamation League. Incidents increased by 115% in the state of Georgia.

“Why is it still going on?” said Edlin.

That’s what Edlin, whose parents survived the holocaust, wants to know.

Holocaust survivor Bebe Forehand has an answer and a solution.

“People are people. The ones that were ugly then are ugly today. Not the new generation. I have so much hope for our new generation,” said Forehand.

And that positivity is despite the evil forehand she has seen against her own family during World War Two.

“Nobody came back. Not one person,” said Forehand.

Senator Ossoff also lost many family members to the hands of Nazis and made a vow during his speech at the ceremony.

“Humanity resolved never again to let those events repeat themselves,” said Senator Ossoff.

But how do you stop history from repeating itself?

“Educate, educate, educate. We have to keep telling the stories of what happened here,” said Edlin.

And by viewing people the way Forehand does.

“I do believe people are good basically. Yeah, we get rotten apples, we throw that out, but we have to keep hope,” said Forehand.

This is the 57th year Atlanteans have had a community memorial for Holocaust victims. The last two years could not be in person because of the pandemic.