Lili Bosse Honored in State Assembly

Former Mayor Lili Bosse has received many awards for her fierce leadership in the fight against antisemitism, but the honor recently given to her for Holocaust Remembrance Day carried an unparalleled level of poignancy.

Bosse, the daughter of an Auschwitz survivor, was selected by Assembly Democratic Caucus Chair Rick Chavez Zbur (D-Hollywood) as his honoree for the California Jewish Caucus’ recognition of Yom HaShoah on April 29. 

“As I was standing there in our state’s capital and getting this recognition, I felt my mom and I felt all the ancestors that I didn’t know that were exterminated there in the room with me,” she told the Courier. “It was extraordinarily powerful.” 

Holocaust Remembrance Day always brings up deep emotions for Bosse, but this year those emotions have been multiplied in light of the record levels of antisemitism familiar as we hear ‘Go Back to Poland’ and ‘Final Solution’ on college campuses, antisemitism is in a state of emergency to which I never imagined I’d experience in my lifetime,” Bosse said. 

While both her parents survived the Holocaust, Bosse never got the opportunity to meet the rest of her extended family as they were all killed. She grew up hearing her parents’ tales of resiliency and survival and was raised on the solemn vow that such horrors should never be allowed to take place again.


Bosse receiving the plaque in Sacramento on April 29
Photo courtesy Assembly Democratic Caucus

“I feel that to my very last breath, I have to speak out and I have to honor their memory and fight for what is happening in our world right now, because it’s surreal, it’s happening in front of our very eyes and it is gut-wrenching,” she said. 

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the U.S. has seen a nearly 400% increase in antisemitic incidents in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks. During Monday’s award ceremony, several assemblymembers spoke about the rapid and alarming rise of hatred against Jews.

“This year has been a trying one for the Jewish community. Antisemitism, which was already on the rise, is now at a fever pitch,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Co-Chair of the Jewish Caucus. “Many in our community never thought we would see this level of hate again.”

Wiener said that during past Holocaust Remembrance Days, every seat in the assembly would be filled with a Holocaust survivor. This year the majority of honorees were descendants of survivors as only a few survivors remain alive to pass on their memories.

“As this history moves further into the past, it is essential that we rededicate ourselves to ensuring the lessons of the Holocaust are not forgotten,” said Wiener. 

Bosse said she is extremely troubled by the rise in hate speech and Jewish exclusion on college campuses, because it mirrors the manner in which antisemitism insidiously spread in 20th-century Europe. 

“We have to change the course of what is happening, because we can’t let history repeat itself and what we’re seeing in front of our eyes is the beginnings of what we saw in World War Two,” she said.

At the same time, she finds hope and strength in the many people inside and outside of the Jewish community who are speaking out against antisemitism, including everyone who came together to recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day in the State Assembly.

“The people who have light, the young generation of students who are out speaking about how wrong this is, that’s what gives me hope,” she said. “If we didn’t have that, we’d be in big trouble.” 

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