Thursday, April 12, 2018: Today’s official commemoration of the Holocaust is known as Yom HaShoah V’Hagvurah/ Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day.
The commemoration was established as such by the State of Israel, recognizing not only the helpless victims but the courageous heroes, who resisted the Nazi machine. This week during a Holocaust commemoration at North Shore Towers, I offered the following ‘invocation’ combining thoughts about Yom HaShoah with a tragic episode in this week’s Torah portion of Shmini.
With each year, the number of survivors is dwindling. The very youngest among them are now in their 80’s. Responsibility to remember and to survive as Jews rests upon the shoulders of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and now even great-great-grandchildren.
The following are my remarks from last night:
This week’s Torah portion of Shmini includes one of the great tragedies of the early biblical era. Nadav and Avihu, two sons of Aaron are suddenly killed in a tragic accident. In response to the calamity the Torah narrates:
Vayeedom Aharon — And Aaron was silent.
The shock to Aaron must have been severe beyond words.
What could he say in response?
What inadequate words of consolation could anyone share?
The most adequate of inadequate responses was to be silent…
In terms of our contemporary response to the Holocaust, there are two kinds of silence which immediately come to mind.
The first is a legitimate silence; there can never be adequate words when it comes to our response to Nazi barbarism, and the suffering of 6 million Jews. Anything less than silence would dishonor the victims; living and dead.
The second type of silence however, has no place within the Jewish community of 2018. The Shoah generation is fading; those who bore live witness will soon be all gone.
When it comes however to our bearing witness to their stories and their histories we are obligated not to remain silent. We are now over 70 years; three and a half generations from the end of World War II and the extermination of European Jewry.
We, our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren have a sacred duty to bear verbal witness to the stories, the accounts, and the histories which have been shared by survivors in person and in print.
We are confronting a generation not only silent about bearing witness to the stories; but a generation collaborating with Hitler as they dismiss any identification with the Jewish people.
Whatever our theologies or Jewish cultural and ritual proclivities; we can no longer tolerate the erosion of Jewish life which is silencing American Jewry in ways Hitler could not have imagined.
So, on this Yom HaShoah; to this generation so deeply touched by Hitler’s Europe: Let us pledge to never be silent. We must continue to defy Hitler and Nazi Germany by never succumbing to the deafening and palpable silence which threatens the future of Am Yisrael.
May their stories always be in our consciousness…
Please Join Us for Our Annual
Yom HaShoah / Holocaust Commemoration Gathering
Sunday, April 15th, 11:30am
Bellerose Jewish Center
254-14 Union Turnpike, Glen Oaks
Playwright, Landon Braverman
Author of the “White Rose Society”, a musical about a group of brave, young Germans who lost their lives in an attempt to overthrow Hitler
Landon will speak about his play and perform musical selections from it
Bellerose Jewish Center
Lake Success Jewish Center
Photo credit: Dr. Avishai Teicher, from the Pikiwiki site: https://www.pikiwiki.org.il/image/view/12496