ongress established the Days of Remembrance as the annual commemoration of the Holocaust, the genocide during World War II in which Nazi Germany systematically murdered two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population from 1941-45. At least 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust. Six million of those people were Jewish.
On April 20, Redstone Arsenal joins the world in honoring the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, as well as the millions of non-Jewish victims of Nazi persecution with a virtual observance hosted by the Army Materiel Command. The virtual event will take place on Microsoft Teams at 11 a.m. featuring speakers from the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center.
This year the Holocaust Days of Remembrance week will be observed from April 16-23. Holocaust Remembrance Day will be Tuesday, April 18. This day is observed each year during the week of Remembrance that runs from the Sunday before Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) through the following Sunday.
The Department of Defense’s theme for this year’s observance is “Behind Every Name A Story: The Women.” The poster highlights the bravery of Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who, during World War II, helped rescue 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.
Manska Cohen and husband Rabbi Moshe Cohen co-direct Chabad Huntsville, an organization with a mission to provide Jewish education and programs in North Alabama. She said it’s important for organizations like Redstone to highlight the Days of Remembrance within their workforce activities.
“Our history is important. We must keep the stories alive of those who lost their lives during the Holocaust,” Cohen said. “Remembering is great, but we don’t want to be defined by the hate that was done to us during the Holocaust. Although we appreciate everyone honoring those who lost their lives, it’s important that we are defined by the love that God has for us as a people and our responsibility to love one another. Judaism puts a focus on community. When you are part of a greater whole there is so much more you can accomplish than as an individual. Being Jewish is about more than a religion.”
In 2015, Cohen said she and her husband moved to Huntsville to spread teachings inspired by the Chabad movement among the North Alabama Jewish community. Together, they started Chabad of Huntsville which serves as part of a worldwide Jewish outreach network that heeds to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s call to reach out to Jews across the globe.
Cohen said Chabad welcomes every Jew into an inviting and nonjudgmental environment in which to experience their heritage. Through Torah learning classes, holiday programs, weekly Shabbat meals, and more, people of North Alabama are constantly enriched with the beauty of Judaism.
“There are three important aspects of Jewish heritage: faith, community and belief,” Cohen said. Her parents shared these teachings with her at an early age.
“My parents took great pride in raising us to be proud Jews and proud of our heritage and ancestry. From birth, it’s a part of our DNA,” she said. “I was born a Jew, regardless of whether I’m practicing it. It’s beyond a belief system. From birth, you cannot deny your identity. I had it lucky and was raised in a community who accepted me. They celebrated my Jewish heritage and that made my childhood seamless. I went to a Jewish school and grew within a community with the same value system that was being taught by my parents. It’s harder for Jewish children to find the same nurturing environment I grew up in. For example, they may be the only student in their classroom that is a Jew. This can mean they are being exposed to a different value system. “
Cohen explained that when people remember the innocent Jewish men, women, and children murdered by the Nazi regime, they can’t forget to honor their Jewish heritage. She encourages those who want to pay honor to her people during the Days of Remembrance to place a focus on what is central to Jewish heritage.
“In my opinion, to never forget and honor all the souls of all the martyrs and extended Jewish families that suffered during the Holocaust, you must remember our history as a people,” she said. “Our teachings are deeply rooted in Judaism, and we are defined by the love God has for us as a people. Finally, there is a saying that people die twice. Once when they take their final breath, and then again, the last time someone says their name. We must ensure those martyrs from the Holocaust never experience a second death.”
For more information about Team Redstone’s Holocaust Days of Remembrance observance, call Master Sgt. Ryant Bell, AMC military equal opportunity program manager and equal opportunity adviser, at 256-