Speeches

Chief Justice Thomas Moyer
Day of Recognition Honoring Bulgaria and Denmark Sponsored by the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
April 7, 2002

On Sunday April 7, 2002 at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer represented the State of Ohio at the “Day of Recognition” ceremony held in conjunction with Holocaust Awareness Week. The Day of Recognition honored the citizens of Denmark and Bulgaria who refused to deport Jewish citizens to death camps during World War II. In attendance was the honorable Hristo Danov, Chief Justice of the Supreme [Constitutional] Court of Bulgaria.

Your Royal Highness, Your Excellencies, Ambassadors, Clergy, our friends from Bulgaria and Denmark, judges and friends . . .

I am deeply grateful for the invitation to participate in this historic event. The creation of the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is a dynamic manifestation of humankind's eternal search for a peaceful existence upon this earth.

Today we raise up for recognition, the courageous, defiant acts of the government, the church and the people of Bulgaria and Denmark during the Holocaust.

These "models of humanity" boldly reflect into the 21st century, the light that flickered deep in the tunnels of the 20th century. That light tells us that if we open our hearts to learning and understanding, to tolerance and justice, there is no room for hatred and evil.

How appropriate that "Holocaust Awareness Weeks" begin on the day the citizens of Cincinnati struggle to apply those principals in response to the tragic event of one year ago.

Surely, a city that is the sight of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education should be a model for humanity.

Chief Justice Danov of the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria and I represent the institution in our countries created to protect constitutional rights and to ensure the fair administration of the rule of law. But let us realize that constitutions and laws do not "guarantee" those rights to anyone. As Judge Learned Hand wisely observed in 1944:

"I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes ***. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it ***. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it."

On this day of recognition and in the events of these two weeks, may each of us recommit our mind and our spirit to being the models of humanity that will cause justice and righteousness to roll down like water in a mighty stream over this community and over all the world.