Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was signed into Israeli law in 1951 as a day to remember the lives of the approximately 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust.
I don’t know a single Jewish friend who’s family was not impacted by the Holocaust in someway. Talking about it with my brother this morning, we tried to calculate how many more Jews there would be today if those 6 million+ had the opportunity to procreate. It’s hard to say, and really there is no way to know, but as Jews currently make up only 0.2% of the world’s population, you can imagine the significant difference those 6 million would have made. There are roughly 13.5 million Jews in the world today.
Just yesterday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the UN’s conference to combat racism in the world. Not surprisingly, he used the forum to slander the Jews and call Israel a “cruel and repressive racist regime.”
This is the same man who has publicly doubted the occurrence of the Holocaust and also says there are no gay people in his country, except for those who are legally stoned to death in public. Many of the delegates present walked out of Ahmadinejad’s speech, however some applauded his misguided and ill-conceived words. Today we remember, because anti-semitism is still alive.
In remembering the Jews who lost their lives, and the lives of all 13 million people who were systematically executed during the Holocaust, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the great accomplishments of the Jewish people throughout history. Keep in mind that Jews are .2% of the world’s population.
22% of all Nobel Prize Winners
44% of Business Week’s 100 Leading Philanthropists
15% of Fortune 100 CEOs
38% Academy Award Winning Directors
44% of World Chess Champions
A chart with many more accomplishments can be found here.
I love being Jewish. It is a cultural identity for which I am extremely proud. Today I remember where I come from and where I would have been during the Holocaust.
“…If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.
The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
– Mark Twain(“Concerning The Jews,” Harper’s Magazine, 1899, see The Complete Essays of Mark Twain, Doubleday  pg. 249)