MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — The 2017 Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration and Interfaith Community Gathering was held at Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach after rain forced the event to reschedule.
But the weather didn’t stop hundreds from attending the event at Temple Beth Sholom Sunday. The event was billed as an interfaith community gathering to denounce anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.
Jews, Christians and Muslims gathered side by side in the temple as speakers called upon the crowd to condemn the forces of prejudice, bigotry and hate.
“If we don’t raise our voices when we see the beginnings of hate, we stand to relive the horrors of yesterday,” said Jacob Solomon, the President of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
Recent bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers and swastikas scrawled on cars in South Florida are a grim reminder that hate can hit close to home.
“When threats like this occur, it causes people to reach out to one another and make this the type of community we want to live in,” said Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Florida).
Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who attends the Holocaust Remembrance every year, said teaching tolerance has to begin at home.
“We’ve got to say never again. Intolerance will not be tolerated,” she said.
Yet holocaust survivor Alex Gross told the audience it could happen again. His parents were killed in a concentration camp but Gross and his siblings managed to survive starvation and unspeakable terror through sheer will.
“Before we were taken away, our mother begged us, ‘Please stay alive,'” he recounted.
He says when he sees symbols of hate, he’s reminded of his childhood when his best friend turned on him and joined Hitler’s youth movement.
“When kids commit vandalism now it’s scary,” said Gross. “They don’t realize their lives could be at risk. When the Russians came in, my best friend was hanged in the village.”
Gross is now 88 years old and spends his time going to schools educating children about the Holocaust. He says he doesn’t want history to repeat itself.