Today is DAY TWELVE, which makes ONE WEEK and FIVE DAYS of the Omer. __________ Torah for Today Rabbi David S. Widzer
“A Vow” In the presence of eyes which witnessed the slaughter, Which saw the oppression the heart could not bear, And as witness the heart that once taught compassion Until the days came to pass that crushed human feeling, I have taken an oath: To remember it all, To remember – not once to forget! Forget not one thing to the last generation When degradation shall cease, To the last, to its ending, When the rod of instruction shall have come to conclusion. An oath: Not in vain passed over the night of terror. An oath: No morning shall see me at flesh-pots again. An oath: Lest from this we learned nothing. -- Abraham Shlonsky, translated by Herbert Bronstein
Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Established over 60 years ago by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, it is a day to recall the horrors visited upon our people, a day to fulfill Shlonsky’s vow “to remember – not once to forget!”
In the worldwide Jewish community, the act of remembering takes many forms. There are somber ceremonies, communal candle-lightings, film and lecture series, and academic panels to discuss what we have learned. Memorials are consecrated. This year, these remembrances are taking place online or with resources in our own homes. The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey has compiled a partial list of opportunities for remembering, including a communal moment of silence tonight at 6:00pm.
For me, the most meaningful memorial is found in the heart of the permanent exhibit of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. There sits a railway car that was used to transport Jews to their deaths at one of the camps. It is empty and open, with no sign of the thousands of people it carried. There is little to distinguish it from any other railway car. But that, in fact, is what makes it such a powerful memorial. Though it is hollow and empty, it is crowded with silent, invisible, overwhelming memory. It is a link to the past and a message for the future. It proclaims: here is what is important to remember; here is what not to forget. Here is what we have learned from this chapter of our history.
Judaism is about much more than mere survival, much more than only remembering the tragedies of the past. It is about living and enacting and rejoicing in the values that make our lives precious, bringing to life the teachings embedded in words of Torah and practiced by generations. This, too, is how we remember. This, too, is a fitting memorial.
Ethics Study Group with Rabbi Noah
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In Case You Missed It
This week featuring the return of Kol Dorot Music Director Jim Rensink!
Recorded LIVE on Saturday evening.