Tuesday, April 21, 2009
It seems like with each passing Yom Hashoah, it's becoming more and more important to bring attention to it (not that it never was, oh no); world leaders denying that the Holocaust ever happened and suggesting 15+ million people just vanished into thin air, people throwing around the accusation that Israel is a direct result of the Holocaust, people calling for a new Holocaust...
On this Yom Hashoah, please take a small break from your day to go to a memorial service, buy a Yartzheit candle, or just say a quick prayer. Tell a friend who might not know much about the Holocaust the significance of today, and how achingly important it is that we never forget the monstrous crimes and lethal indifference we as a human race are capable of.
On a personal level, I can hardly be described as a religious Jew. I love cheeseburgers and do not attend synagogue as much as I should. And yet I still feel pride when I say the Sh'ma, still feel a driving love when I see the Israeli flag- the same motivating love I feel when I see the Stars and Stripes. And I still feel a connection to the Jewish community, not only because of my affinity for Jewish culture but because of Judaic history. I'm a much better Zionist than I am a Jew, but it's still my proud obligation as both to help better the Jewish community and make the world a better place for us to live in, because God knows no one else is going to do it for us.
The Holocaust and Yom Hashoah are especially important in this regard. 6 million of us were rounded up and slaughtered like so much cattle. 6 million, for being Jewish. Did you know that if not for the Holocuast, there would be 32 million Jews in the world today? Anti-Semitism could very well be something we place on the back burner (but never remove).
As Jews, we take our knowledge and information of the Holocaust for granted. We know about it because it affected us. But what do most Hindus and Catholics, Buddhists and Ba'Hai, know about it, other than 6 million Jews died? So many people categorize the Holocaust only in that way, the death of 6 million Jews, but there's so much more to it. The cruelty, detachment from morality, inhumanity, the willing indifference of man. Instead of organizing in outrage, whole nations allied themselves with Hitler simply so he wouldn't do to them what he was doing to the Jews.
So on this Yom Hashoah, explain today's importance to someone who may not understand why we dwell on something that happened over 60 years ago. Explain to them that it wasn't just Jews, but blacks and gyspies, too. Gays, Poles, Slavs, disabled, mentally handicapped, Freemasons. It goes on. And they weren't targeted for their political affiliations, not as some military or political strategy. They were targeted just because they had the audacity to be. The world might have chosen the Jews as its favorite martyr, but it's not hesitant to make other people suffer with us.
The March of the Living.