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.
There are many elements which make the High Holy Days a unique experience. Often, congregations swell to double or triple their usual size, the musical settings of even common liturgy are different, and some might alter their dress by wearing either traditionally all-white garments or more formal wear than they would sport on Shabbat. Some congregations even have unique garments to dress their Torah scrolls in white.