"We bear witness to what human beings are capable of," said Tamar Jacobs, a local survivor of the Holocaust, in her remarks this afternoon at the San Jose City Council. "Suffering is part of life," she noted, but what remains for human beings is the challenge to find meaning in the suffering. "Everything can be taken away," she said, "except the last freedom- the choice of one's attitude toward the suffering."
Jacobs was born in Munich, Germany just before the stirrings of the Nazi party's war on Jews. Her father was expelled from Germany in 1932, and her grandfather was living in Palestine. She and her mother went to visit the grandfather in 1938, just before the famed Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass," which is often marked as the beginning of Nazis' overt attacks on the Jewish people which resulted in over 6 million Jews murdered, along with millions of Gypsies, Homosexuals, mentally retarded persons and political undesirables. By the end of the Holocaust, nearly one third of the world-wide Jewish population had been killed.
Today's ceremony at the San Jose City Council recognized January 27th as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and honored many of the Holocaust Survivors who live in the area. Members of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the local Holocaust Survivors Group joined Councilwoman Rose Herrera and Mayor Chuck Reed to receive the official city proclamation.
We experience many tragedies in life, like floods and hurricanes, said Councilwoman Herrera, but the Holocaust was a "man-made tragedy" that serves as "a reminder of the dangers of hatred and prejudice." This is the eighth year that the Council has joined in the international commemoration.
Jacobs, today a therapist working with couples and individuals, seeks "to awaken in my clients a sense of responsibility to life," that ability to find meaning in the darkest of circumstances.