Sho'ah Memorial Service FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT



The altar is dressed in black and white: black for the darkness of the Sho?ah, the catastrophic tempest which blew six million Jews to their death during the years of the Nazi regime, from 1933-1945; white for the Jewish liturgical colour of holiness and atonement. A yellow Star of David attached to the black drape calls to mind the command of Hitler that all Jews must wear this badge on their outer garments. Nine candles will be placed on the altar: six will burn for the six million Jews who died; one will burn for the non-Jews who lost their lives during those years; and the eighth candle will honour the righteous gentiles, who, in those desolate, dark days, risked their lives for the sake of their Jewish neighbours. Towards the end of the service a ninth candle will be placed on the altar as a symbol of peace.


All sit



Judaism and Christianity do not merely tell
Of God?s love for humanity.
They stand or fall on their fundamental claim
That the human being is of ultimate and absolute value.
That the Holocaust poses the most radical counter-testimony
To both Judaism and Christianity.
No statement, theological or otherwise,
Should be made that would not be credible
In the presence of burning children
(Rabbi Irving Greenberg)


While the music is played most of the lights in the crypt are extinguished.


We are gathered here to express our remorse
At the atrocities of the Sho'ah,
The searing Holocaust that swept away six million Jews
And five million others,
That made unwanted human beings vanish
Like smoke
Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally handicapped, the imperfect?
The coming of stifling asphyxiating darkness
The falling down into a bottomless pit of
Destruction, of hatred –
The attempt to blot out a whole people
The Jews
Who gave so much to humanity.


?And the earth was null and void
And darkness
Was over the face of the deep.? (Gen 1: 2)

?And God said ?Let there be light”
And there was light…? (Gen 1:3)

Then God said, “”Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”(Gen 1:26).
So God created humankind in God's image,
in the image of God they were created,
male and female they were created? (Gen 1:27).

But human beings so often defaced the Divine image
Have corroded the Divine likeness
Killed in the name of religion
Used the sacred name for ignoble ends
Blotted out the face of Divine Justice
Persecuted, blasphemed
Belittled and vilified the other.
Nations still rise against nation
Wars are still waged
And blood continues to stain the earth.
Terrorism has raised its medusa like head;
The poison of racism has not lost its potency.
The Divine Image is defaced –
Six million Jewish images of God,
Five million others,
Wiped out by deliberate miscasting of others
And demonising their difference.
Lord have mercy.


The earth is soaked with the tears of the innocent. The blood of every people cries out from the ground. The mind grows numb, the heart turns to stone, the eyes cannot see.
The foes were not content to inflict pain on Jews;
Their hellish dream was darker still-
A world without Jews
That would wipe out their very name from the earth,
Send their memory into oblivion
Cast their bones into pits
Their dreams into darkness
A world where individual dignity had not place.

Six million Jews died and the world stood by silent,
Did nothing, remained indifferent, thought Jews deserved to die.
If Jews can be consigned to such horror,
No Christian is safe. No one is safe.
Lord have mercy.



Let us light six candles,
In memory of these six million Jews,
one candle
for each one million lives extinguished,
burnt to ashes in the searing fires of hatred,

Let us
Jews and non-Jews
commit ourselves
to responsibility for one another,
that together we may build a world
that has no room for hatred
or revenge
but only for love and respect for the other.

The lights in the crypt are illuminated.
One by one, six members of the assembly come forward to light the memorial candles on the altar.



The Shema, proclaiming the oneness of God, said at daybreak and at fall of night has been on the lips of Jews for thousands of years. These words came to be the last words recited by many going to their death.

All stand

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One: and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart: and you shall teach them diligently to your children and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up (Deut 6: 4-7).

Thus says the Lord:
'A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
She refuses to be comforted for her children,
Because they are not.' (Jeremiah 31: 15)

All sit

The savage, searing breath of the Holocaust
was felt also by those
who risked their lives
to gave a helping hand to their neighbours
in their hour of darkness;
and by those others
who died for the crime of being different,
in a time of madness and of terror.
We light these candles
In their memory.

Two members of the assembly come forward and light the seventh and
eighth candles.


According to Your steadfast love;
According to Your abundant mercy
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You alone, have I sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified in your sentence
And blameless when You pass judgement.
Indeed I was born guilty,
A sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being;
Therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness:
Let the bones that You have crushed rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart,
O God put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your holy spirit from me Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And sustain in me a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors
Your ways, And sinners will return to you Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, And my tongue will sing aloud Of Your deliverance.

O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth will declare Your praise. For You have no delight in sacrifice; If I were to give a burnt Offering, You would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God Is a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure;
Rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Then you will delight in right sacrifices, In burnt offering and whole burnt offerings; Then bulls will be offered on Your altar.

The dread and horror of the Sho'ah could not be taught: only experienced. The Holocaust cannot be explained; Just faced with silence. And we, who were not its victims can only try to touch and feel and taste the dark and burning nights the freezing dawns as we listen to the witnesses…

Jews have lived these experiences from generation to generation.


Voices speak out of the Holocaust
to bear witness…
to the children the voices of the hopes of Israel for life and peace:



A poem by Laura Crist

And the child held her hand

A child tiny for almost eight,
Deep blue eyes that dominated his face,
When he explained new events to her,
that funny doggy,
that pretty rock,
And the freckles on his cheek,
No one saw a sunrise more perfect,
to her,
She so vividly smells the fragrance of
his hair,
his ears,
his breath in the morning.
She vividly hears that little heartbeat,
that was hers
always hers,
and the laughter,
that raspy little laugh,
when he caught her in a conundrum.

All this,
But this is merely the surface,
As she watches her little God sheared,
and stripped, For the gas chamber.

Voices speak out of the Holocaust
to bear witness…

The voices of the wheat of Israel
grown to maturity,
and mown down in smoke and ashes:

Voices speak out of the Holocaust
to bear witness…
The voices of the survivors,
those who passed through death to life.
And, in a sense, the voices of us all
for whom the Holocaust has put an end
to a certain kind of innocence;
all of us carry the responsibility of

By K. Zetnik

Today I left for you a crumb of my bread ration.
See, beloved one it lies embedded in the palm of my hand as in a
crystal bowl.
Night over Auschwitz.
Sleep hovers over my neighbours' bunks like swaying dark cloth.
Outside, starts flicker above the roofs of the blocks.
Stars light up and go out.
Now, more than ever my heart longs for you.
The dearest most, sacrifice in Auschwitz I offer to you.
And I said, this breadcrumb is in holy dedication for my beloved one.
See – it lies in the palm of my right hand Where are you, beloved one? Like myself, perhaps, you are sitting on the boards of a bunk in a German camp for women, and like me, you gaze at a breadcrumb in the palm of your hand.

Where are you, beloved one?

Like myself, perhaps, you are sitting on the boards of a bunk in a
German camp for women, and like me, you gaze at a breadcrumb in the
palm of your hand.

Today-more than ever, your heart yearned for me and you said: this
bread pittance shall remain holy for my beloved one!
See my dearest, the tear on the palm of my second hand is the size of
my breadcrumb! Come – let us leave the cell, we will stand in the darkness of the night:
we will stand under the skies of Auschwitz.

Our love will walk between the breadcrumbs and will exchange
them in the palms of our hands. You will eat mine – and I shall eat yours.

Behold no more stars shine over the roofs of the blocks.

Only lost sparks of the cremetoria-chimneys are fading out.

Only your countenance will shine forever in the lustre of my tear.

Translated from Yiddish by Hirsh Munz.

Poem in Yiddish

Yiddish was the ?lingua franca? of the majority of European Jewry, and the product of one thousand years of European Jewish culture. In the 1930s, the use of the Yiddish language and culture was at its zenith. When World War II broke out, the Nazi policy of ethnic cleansing resulted in the annihilation of both its speakers and cultural base. This Yiddish poem is an extract from Elegy on Ghetto by Jacob Rosenberg.

Jacob Rosenberg was born in Poland. All the members of his family were murdered in Auschwitz. He migrated to Australia in 1948. Twilight Whisper is his fifth book.

'The surviver-poet is bound by two contradictory imperatives: the injunction to remember, and to speak in memory; and the equally powerful impulse to remain silent, before the unspeakable horror of human cruelty. Jacob Rosenberg negotiates this dilemma evoking the past in lyrics of tender intimacy.'
From a cover note by Ivor Indyk

by Jacob Rosenberg

Oh, I know what happened to the children,
I know what became of them all,
but to keep what's left of my sanity
there are scenes I refuse to recall
. The scenes in the stony bunker,
the last plea for breath,
the smell of gas,
the eerie silence,

But in the night,
there, where the pit is still aflame,
I hear them calling,
calling my name,
my shame.

I once had a mother and father,
two sisters in the prime of life,
Ida the gentle dove
and Pola the rebel in strife.

I also had two nieces,
little girls of six and four,
one with a windowless basement,
the other a lock on her door.

Now I have only ashes,
and an everlasting sigh,
and in the twilight wind the howl
of a mother's cry.

(Published in Twilight Whisper by Focus Words, Melbourne).

Pause for silent reflection


Voices speak out of the Holocaust,
voices of those who for years
could not speak
because their lips were sealed
with memory and silence…


by Elie Wiesel

One day when we came back from work we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around us; machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains – and one of them the sad-eyed angel.

The SS seemed more preoccupied than usual. To hang a young body in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter. The head of the camp read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lip. The gallows threw shadows over him.

This time the Lagerkapo refused to act as executioner. Three SS replaced him.

The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses.

'Long live liberty!' cried the two adults. But the child was silent.

'Where is God? Where is He?' someone behind me asked.

At a sign from the head of the camp, the three chairs tipped over. Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting.

'Bare your heads!' yelled the head of the camp. His voice was raucous. We were weeping.

'Cover your heads!'

Then the march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged. But the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive.

For more than half-an-hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony before our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed.

Behind me I heard the same man asking, 'Where is God now?'

And I heard a voice within me answer him: 'Where is He? … Here he is - He is hanging there on this gallows…'

(From Night by Elie Wiesel, pp. 76-77. Melbourne, Penguin. Copyright Les Editions de Minuit, 1958. Used with permission)

Pause for silent reflection.


Voices speak out of the Holocaust,
Christian voices – too few, too softly,
but the righteous among the nations of the world…


by Jeremy Nelson

It is winter: the woman's coat thin check,
The dress black cotton. Her head and her daughters heads
are covered by scarves.
The boy wears a cap.
Hand-held, the smallest child walks between
her mother and sisters. She is well coated
against the chill; she moves willingly like one
wanting to learn.
What have they told the child?

Her sister sees that gladness is no longer a gift,
it's not fever that frets the mother's mind
but something most frightful, something too pained
to weep.
The boy has lagged behind.
His willow would wisely take him elsewhere, but snout that shunts
him forward is greater than God's love,
he must go to where no child would go.
Ice creaks under their walk. The air is as sharp
as gas. Its cold incinerates. No-one
can take the scorched smell of smoke from their minds.
With a meekness not given by Moses, they move
into the shadow of a psalm's black valley.
Ten miles away, Jesus the Jew is worshipped.

Pause for silent reflection

At this point a speaker will address the assembly.

All stand



We offer a prayer based on the Mourners? Kaddish, an affirmation of God?s presence and dominion, a prayer that God?s Kingdom may come. We pray it for the victims of the Sho'ah and also for the survivors who rose up again and gathered together their strength to rebuild their shattered lives.

[At the beginning of the prayer the names of some of the death camps and ghettoes will be proclaimed).




Yitgadal v?yitkadash sh?mei rabba
b?alma di v?ra khir?utei, vyamlikh malkhutei b'chayeikhon u-v?yomeikhon u-v?chayei d?khol beit Yisrael ba-agala u-vi-z?man kariv v?imru Amen.

Let God?s name be made great and holy in the world that was created as God willed. May God complete the holy realm in your own lifetime, in your days, and in the days of all the house of Israel, quickly and soon. And let us say: Amen.

Y?hei sh?mei raba m?varakh l?alam u-l?aimei almaya.

May God's great name be blessed, forever and as long as worlds endure.

Yitbarakh v?yishtabach v?yitpa?ar v?yitromam v?yitnasei, v?yit-hadar v?yit?aleh v?yit-halal sh?mei d?ku-d?sha
(CONGREGATION B?rikh Hu) B?rikh Hu leila min kol birkhata v?shirata, tush-b?chata v?nechemata da-amiran b?alma, v?imru Amen. (CONGREGATION Amen)
Y?hei sh?lama raba min sh?maya v?chayim aleinu v?al kol Yisrael, v?imru amen
Oseh shalom bi-m?romav, hu ya?aseh shalom aleinu v?al kol Yisrael, v?imru Amen

May it be blessed, and praised, and glorified, and held in honour, viewed with awe, embellished, and revered; and may the blessed name of holiness be hailed, though it be higher than all the blessings, songs, praises, and consolations that we utter in this world. And let us say: Amen.
Let there be abundant peace from Heaven, with life?s goodness for us and for all the people Israel, And let us say: Amen,
May the One who brings peace to the universe bring peace to us and to the people Israel. And let us say: Amen.



First they came for the communists,
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me,
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.
(Pastor Martin Niemoeller, victim of the Nazis).


But the Sho'ah cannot be forgotten
Will not be forgotten
So long as there are righteous among the nations
Who will stand up and be counted
Who will stand up for Jews
For oppressed minorities
For the rights of indigenous peoples
For those suffering poverty and oppression.

May imperfect humanity
Strive continually to learn
The language of peace
The language of compromise

The sharing of resources and land
Will learn to give space to the other
To allow for differences
In race, religion and outlook
So that all will live together in harmony.


Let us pray:

1. God of peace, steadfast love and loving kindness, deliver all nations from war, persecution and violence, racial discrimination, ethnic cleansing and exile.

O Lord, hear my prayer (2)
When I call answer me
O Lord hear my prayer (2)
Come and listen to me (Taiz? melody)

2. God of justice and compassion, we pray for all refugees, for the lost and stolen generations, for those who have had to flee their homes, their places of birth; whose families have been killed and murdered, who have witnessed unspeakable horrors.

3. We ask forgiveness for the sin of silence, for indifference, for the two millennia of antisemitism and prejudice that made possible the unleashing of the destruction of the Sho'ah.

O Lord, hear my prayer (2)
When I call answer me
O Lord hear my prayer (2)
Come and listen to me (Taiz? melody)

4. We pray for healing, for a change of heart, for the courage to care, for a new spirit of hope, for a spirit of reconciliation to replace murderous aggression. O God, make us people of peace.

5. We pray for peace in the land of Israel.

'For the peace of Jerusalem pray.'
Sha-alu shalom Yerushalayim.

O Lord, hear my prayer (2)
When I call answer me
O Lord hear my prayer (2)
Come and listen to me (Taiz? melody)

Prayer: O God, who sees the innermost heart, instil in us, Your peoples, a sense of deep compassion one for the other. Heal the hate and racism within each of us. Purify our hearts and minds. Open our eyes to the truth, our eyes to Your light.

All sit

When God threatened to destroy the infamous Sodom, Abraham pleaded for its inhabitants. God responded that he would spare the city for the sake of only ten just people (Gen 18:32). Those who were able to combat Nazi crimes during the Second World and were saved from destruction have left the seeds of hope to the post Auschwitz world.

Adapted from Wladyslaw Bartoszewski. A Christian?s Testimony, 103.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where discord, union;
Where there is doubt, let us sow faith;
Where there is despair and darkness, let there be hope and light;
Where there is sadness, let there be joy!
For your mercy and your truth?s sake. Amen.
(Prayer of St Francis of Assisi)


Let us bring forward a candle
As a symbol of hope and peace
That human beings will learn to live together in harmony
That light will overcome the darkness
Of war and hatred.
And the goal will be that
NEVER AGAIN will there be a 'Sho'ah'!

The bearer walks to the front, faces the assembly, holds up the candle high and says:

Let us go forth to be peacemakers.

The candle is placed in the central position between the other eight candles.

As our prayer concludes,
May our commitment to reconciliation
Increase daily.
Let us each pledge to become peacemakers in a troubled world.
May we be ever vigilant for justice,
And may antisemitism
Racism, prejudice and
discrimination be blotted out from the earth.

'And God said ?Let there be light”
and there was light?' (Gen 1:3)

'And the light shines in the darkness
And the darkness has not overcome it' (John 1:5.)

At this point each takes a candle and lights it.

In the presence of these candles,
and before we go our separate ways,
let us offer to each other
a sign of reconciliation.

?Shalom”, ?Peace.”

With these words, all present offer to one another a sign of peace.
On leaving, everyone is invited to take a candle home and light it in memory of the Holocaust and as a sign of commitment to peace.


Wars, victories and wars. So many dead.
So many tears . . . History is not a blind alley,
and guilt is not an abyss. There is always
a way that leads out of guilt:
repentance or turning to God.

(Abraham Joshua Heschel)

This Memorial Service was held in ST. MARY'S CATHEDRAL CRYPT 6.00 p.m. 22nd April 2004
and was an initiative of THE COUNCIL OF CHRISTIANS AND JEWS (New South Wales) INC