Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating more than 80 years since the onset of the mass annihilation of Europe’s Jews. In addition to 6 million Jews, Roma, Catholics, political dissidents and others were genocidal targets as well. The Holocaust, a most powerful example of terror directed at ethnic and religious groups and witnessed in plain sight, is a stark example of how governmental power can be perverted and how ordinary citizens can be led to enable horrific acts.

People who are considered as “other” in our country and the world over face similar issues of discrimination, inequality, oppression and, too often, violence. Remembering the Holocaust and including anti-Semitism in our understanding of social justice, is essential to this shared thinking and action for a better world.

We must never forget the Holocaust or turn away from the ongoing hatred, bigotry and oppression of marginalized people throughout the world. It is not enough for only Jews to remember; for, if only Jews remember, then the situation we’re in now, where no one else remembers, enables the bitter lessons of the Holocaust to become a laughingstock (as in T-shirts labeled Camp Auschwitz worn by white supremacists at the Capitol insurrection). Not only is there no longer a sense of moral outrage about what happened to Jews and others 80 years ago, we now have a new generation of targets in our own country: Jews, Blacks, Asians and many “others.”

Has the Holocaust become just an historical artifact whose reality has been all but obliterated? We must be vigilant and activist and join together with all threatened peoples to ensure terror, oppression and genocide can never become a reality again. We are stronger and more aware when we work together to recognize injustice and act to support those threatened in our nation and around the world.

Rick Gordon is Jewish Communities of Vermont director.

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