These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Alumni Guest Post] Reflection on Yom Hashoah

Posted on April 8, 2013 by The Director of Digital Media

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Daniel Shibley (Yr. '11, Fellows '12) shared the following:

A lit Yom Hashoah candle in a dark room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A lit Yom Hashoah candle in a dark room (Photo: Wikipedia)

As the clock turned from 9:59 to 10:00, it began. Quietly at first, and then reaching a volume that brings all of Israel to a halt. The siren of Yom Hashoah silenced all other man-made noises, leaving every body to their own thoughts and memories of the Shoah and its victims. The gusty wind and the birds, which had been muffled by the sounds of the beit midrash, were accompanying the wailing of the siren. Although Hamas shattered my hope of never having to hear the siren outside the context of Yom Hashoa and Yom Hazikaron, somehow the sanctity of that moment rang true, the souls of the victims were standing with us as we paused our Torah learning on their behalf.

Ceremonies are being held in every Israeli city, some last night, others today. Survivors are in the spotlight as they are called upon to tell their harrowing tales. While I am certain of the necessity to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, both living and deceased, I think that we are selling ourselves short by invoking platitudes and one-liners such as, “Never Again” or “Remember the Six Million.” To my mind, Yom Hashoah should be the summit of our remembrance, remembrance which should filter into every day of the year. Among the countless facets of the Shoah that I discovered during my trip to Poland last year, one of the most significant is that every victim has a name and a story, even as the Nazi perpetrators attempted to strip Jews of their identity. While the slogans do capture a deeply sincere sentiment, they make it far more difficult to uphold and carry out their message. If it is indeed our responsibility to prevent additional genocidal atrocities, then we should act upon those words. The six million should not be remembered as a group, but rather as six million individuals. My intention is not to downgrade or cheapen the ceremonies and television coverage, but rather to encourage that the awareness become a more regular part of our lives.

To that end, I have decided to write the name of one victim on a small piece of paper, which I will place in my wallet. I would like to encourage everybody to do the same. Through this small gesture, we can be reminded to prevent genocidal atrocities while remembering the names of our Six Million.