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Island Interfaith communities observe Holocaust Remembrance Day
Yesterday, in song, speech and silence, a small multi-congregation gathering convened to observe Holocaust Remembrance Day.
It has been 69 years since the end of the Holocaust, and although first-hand accounts of one of the world's most notorious acts are fading, many are determined to keep those lessons alive.
"I am glad you came out today," said David Alder of Bainbridge's congregation Kol Shalom. "I am here to honor my parents... we must remember their stories and learn from ourselves."
Both of Adler's parents were survivors of the Holocaust. His father has since passed away and his mother's age hampered her ability to attend the vigil.
Alder and his wife joined about 30 people on the corner of Winslow Way and Madison Avenue to honor and learn from those who lived and died in the genocide.
"You have to carry (the lessons) on," Adler said. "The Holocaust survivors are few and far between now. So it's very important that we never forget."
Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah, began in 1951, it is timed to roughly coincide with the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Those who gathered to mark the day came from a number of different religious organizations who belong to the broader Bainbridge Island North Kitsap Interfaith Council.
"It's something we all need to deal with," said Bill Scarvie, an organizer with Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church. "The Holocaust and all genocides are a result of people treating each other as objects."
The event is part of a series of Interfaith vigils and remembrances that are being organized to help bring people of different creeds together on topics that have universal importance.
"We've got so many congregations all coming together and it's very interesting work when those spheres touch," Scarvie said.
The first interfaith vigil was held in December 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Emily Katcher of congregation Kol Shalom said that the Holocaust, and other human rights violations, continued to show the need for all people to acknowledge past atrocities and dedicate themselves to preventing future crimes.
"It's important in general for people to remember these things and to remember that human rights violations are everyone's business," she said. "It's something the whole community has to be aware of and involved in, making sure human rights are upheld all over the world."