Holocaust Remembrance Day, which comes upon us soon, is a time to reflect on the darkest tragedy of the Jewish people in the modern age (and some would say in all of history).
A few weeks ago, I had this conversation with my 13-year-old daughter, who was reading Elie Wiesel's Night for a school assignment. I was driving her home with her in the back seat.
I said, "You know, it's not a subject I like to talk about."
Music plays a critical role in society as an integral part of social and political history, but more importantly as intrinsic to the total human experience, noted Irene Heskes, a historian and author specializing in sacred and secular Jewish music.
A couple of years ago, at the ripe old age of 96, Simon Wiesenthal died in his sleep. Wiesenthal survived nine different concentration and labor camps and faced certain death on two occasions, but somehow, he outlived his Nazi tormentors.
Today is Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, when we pay tribute to all those who died in the Holocaust. Shoah, which means "catastrophe" or "utter destruction" in Hebrew, refers to the atrocities that were committed against the Jewish people during World War II.
Jews throughout the world have been commemorating the Holocaust annually on the 27th of Nisan since 1953, when the Israeli government inaugurated this day of remembrance and linked to the heroic Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of a decade earlier.
Tekiah! Teruah! Shevarim! Tekiah Gedolah!
In the traditional liturgy, the special character of each holiday is particularly conveyed by the piyyutim (hymns, liturgical poems) that are recited or chanted on that day. Most of these piyyutim have been omitted in Reform liturgies since the nineteenth century, out of a sense that their Hebrew diction is too arcane and their theology too medieval. Yet, some of these poems have routinely been retained in Reform High Holy Day prayer books, particularly for Yom Kippur.