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Yom Hashoah 2015
From the Desk of Stephen H. Hoffman
How fast do historical memories fade? As the “greatest generation” shrinks, how long will the vivid memories of WWII remain? Do our children have any collective memory of the Vietnam War? Such thoughts give me appreciation for the tradition of the Seder in which we retell our “foundation” story. Ask almost any Jew and they can tell you we were slaves in Egypt and ran so quickly we’re eating matzah forever!
Other memories are more recent, memories of loss of dear ones, who we remember during the traditional Yizkor service on the last day of Passover. As we recite prayers in their memories, we pledge to do tzedakah in their names. It could be money we have in mind to give or, maybe, acts of kindness. Both work for me.
Hard on the heels of this contemplative moment comes Yom Hashoah – Holocaust and Resistance Memorial Day – beginning Wednesday evening and continuing on Thursday. At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, at Green Road Synagogue, we will pause to tell the story of the 6,000,000 of our extended families murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. This is a memory we cannot allow to fade. Please join us.
The annual observance is needed so our children’s children will remember what happened to our people when we were defenseless, without an Israel. So deep is the memory that it affects our current views of Israel’s security; the appalling rise of global anti-Semitic attacks; our concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions; and perhaps, most importantly, our hopes for America’s role in the world when we say “never again.”
Our memory of the Holocaust causes us to look at the world differently. When we see Christian students murdered in Africa by Islamic extremists, or suicide terrorists blowing people up in the Sinai, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or killers striking out at synagogues, we ask whether others’ memories have faded.
We have ways to fight against such evil through America and Israel if we have the will.
But, taking a lesson from the Yizkor service, there is something else we can all do. In memory of the 6,000,000 we can do acts of tzedakah. We can act through the Federation. We can act through our synagogues, our organizations and with our own acts of individual loving kindness as volunteers or just with one other person.
But it starts with memory.
Stephen H. Hoffman