Sunday, April 27, 2014

6 million...then and now

היום אחד שנים עשר יום שהם שבוע אחד וחמשה ימים בעמר
Today is twelve days, which is one week and five days of the omer
הוד שבגבורה
A day of humility in a week of strength

Yom HaShoah -- the day we remember those lost in the Holocaust.

At the start of my course on the Shoah, I share this with my students:
There are a little over six million Jews in the US.
Six million.What if all the Jews in the US were to disappear?
It's one way I can impress upon them the enormity of what happened in the Shoah. It's inconceivable and incomprehensible. For no reason other than they were of a certain religion and ethnicity, 6 million people were murdered. And too many people stood by and watched it happen.

We need to teach the why and how of what happened to truly honor the memories of those who lost their lives. Our remembrance needs to encompass a mindfulness that the conditions that brought on that horrible onslaught of the 20th century can happen, and I'm sure some would say has happened, again.

As a young girl growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust, the phrase "Never Again" was drummed into my brain. I feel the pain of that time and place. But I need to take that pain and have it fuel my passion to teach my students an awareness of need to work for justice in this world. The story of our people--the story of freedom and liberation that we told on Pesach; the stories of perseverance and survival that we tell this week--is the foundation of those teachings.

I stood yesterday to say kaddish for all of those lost souls--so many have no one to stand for them. But more than just remembrance--we need to take action in one way or another to ensure we do not witness another Holocaust for any peoples on this earth. In that way, we can truly make their memories a blessing.

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