February meeting featured Yad Vashem dignitary
By Cynthia Mclean | Added February 26, 2011

Dr. Susanna Kokkonen was the guest speaker for this months Yad B' Yad meeting. She lives in Jerusalem where she is director of the Yad Vashem (Holocaust Memorial) Christian Desk. The newly formed 'Christian Desk' is a result of the ICEJ (International Christian Embassy Jerusalem) partnering with Yad Vashem.

Dr. Kokkonen who has worked in the European Parliament in Brussels and at the Embassy of Finland in Tel Aviv received her Ph.D from Hebrew University, Jerusalem in Holocaust Studies. Her knowledge of the subject she presented was impressive, her passion obvious; but it was her compassion that moved the audience both Christian and Jew. She presented a detailed history of events that preceded the Holocaust. Pointing to a new wave of antisemitism Dr Kokkonen gave the audience a fresh perspective concerning just how to stand with Israel and the Jewish people in this time of need.

She cited one clergyman's decision to not stand by and do nothing during those dark times of WWII. He was known to have said that most German Christian were "first Germans, then Christians", bowing to the governments pressure to follow Hitlers lead. Dr. Kokkonen used this example to urge the Christians in the audience to be a Christian first, and not go the way of the multitude, caving into public opinion against our spiritual brothers.

A touching poem quoted by our speaker gave us all a glimpse of the Jewish perspective as their world was caving in and they felt alone during the crisis of the Holocaust:(the below is paraphrased )

Our town is burning

You stand looking on while fire spreads

You can still put the fire out

Dont look on with folded arns

as the fire spreads...

Dr. Kokkonen reminded us that the church will need to change if we are to prevent another wide scale persecution of the Jewish population; she compelled us to be vigilant and be part of that change.