Seminar Educates Christians About Holocaust

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YAD VASHEM, Jerusalem -- As Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day this week, the country's foremost Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem inaugurated a new program to educate and inspire Christians so the Holocaust will never happen again.

Twenty-three Christian leaders from eight countries gathered at the International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem for the first ever Christian leadership seminar.

Susanna Kokkonen, director of the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem, said it is important for Christians to understand the past in order to shape the future.

"By knowing the past we are better able to know what to do today so this is vital information for church leaders to be able support Israel and to know what happened and why it happened," Kokkonen said.

Many of the participants said it has been a life-changing experience.

"Incredible beyond words," said Rev. Charlynne Boddie, one of the participants. "It's been heart-wrenching on one side of it but then very thought-provoking and I would say deep, wide and rich."

"My heart has been so moved since I came here and I believe it is an experience that will be eternally in my heart," said Pastor Bahjat Batarseh, another participant.

The week long seminar addresses a number of issues related to the Holocaust.

"How it came to happen," Kokkonen said. "What is the process? What steps were taken before we actually come to the stages of the concentration camps and murder? And how these processes happen so we can identify them today and stand with the Jewish people and with Israel."

But nearly seven decades after the Holocaust, we now live in a day when anti-Semitism is on the rise and some worry that even another Holocaust within the realm of possibility.

"The most dangerous thing is what could happen again and I don't see it very fast, very far, or impossible," Batarseh said. "There are countries today that threaten Israel should be removed from the map of the world."

"This isn't going to be a time for cowardliness. It's not going to be a time to be ill-informed or apathetic," said Linda Burkle of the Salvation Army. "People will be held accountable. I really believe that. We will not just be able to sit back idly and be a bystander."

They say they now feel compelled to spread the message to other Christians and those in their spheres of influence.

"As Christian leaders all over the world…I want to awake us all together to pray, to fast, to seek the Lord," Batarseh said

"Take the information to those spheres of influence," Boddie said. "Do something with it. Now is the time to act. Now is the not the time to be silent. The things that are happening in the world today, the headlines speak for themselves, it is time to act."

Meanwhile, Israeli defense officials believe Syria has given scud missiles to Hezbollah. Some scud missiles have a range of hundreds of miles. Those missiles would be able to hit anywhere in Israel.

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