January 27 is designated by the United Nations General Assembly as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD). Since 2005, the UN and its member states have held commemoration ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism.
On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges every member state to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.
The purpose of International Holocaust Remembrance Day is two-fold: to serve as a date for official commemoration of the victims of the Nazi regime and to promote Holocaust education throughout the world.
While this day is used to pay tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirms the need for education surrounding genocide awareness and prevention, some stories are undertold or even untold.
The stories of Sephardim and Mizrahim in the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA, Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) are seldom featured in Holocaust Education, despite the presence of concentration camps, systemic laws that reduced Jews to second class citizens, pogroms and even the Farhud in Baghdad, Iraq, on June 1-2 of 1941. These stories must be centred, as well, when discussing the expansiveness of the Holocaust and its impact of worldwide Jewry.
As we approach IHRD, it is important to recognize that the antisemitism that laid the foundation for state sanctioned persecution and the escalating stages of genocide still exists today.
For more information, please contact seconded staff member Jess Burke, from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs at jburke@CIJA.ca.