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.
Genocide has been in the news lately. On March 17th, Secretary of State John Kerry declared, “In my judgment, Daesh (ISIS) is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.” But unless the world’s most powerful nation fulfills its legal and moral obligation under the Genocide Convention, thousands more men, women, and children will fall victim to the crime that once had no name.
The way that Reform Judaism has taken the texts of our tradition, with the traumas of our past, to create a transformative responsibility to pursue social justice is a point of pride for me in my Jewish identity. So, when I was asked not to mention that I am a J
In North America, Holocaust remembrance services and programs often include special musical selections in memory of people lost during the war and in honor of those who fought against the Nazis. Such music is profound and varied, and often was used as a vehicle of resistance. For example, “Zogt Nit Keynmol” (“Never Say That You Have Reached the Final Road”) was written in April 1943 in reaction to news of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Composed in Vilna by underground fighter Hirsh Glick and set to a Soviet cinema tune by Dmitri and Daniel Pokrass, the song spread like wildfire throughout Eastern Europe, becoming the official hymn of the partisan brigades.
Yom Hashoah arrives this year on the eve of two historic anniversaries: the 80th anniversary of the coming into effect of the Nuremberg Race Laws, which served as prologue and precursor to the Holocaust, and the 70th anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials, which served as the foundation for the development of contemporary international human rights and humanitarian law. We must ask ourselves two questions: What have we learned? What must we do?