Thoughts on Yom HaShoah

April 19, 2023 in Hazzan Asa Fradkin

Yesterday on the 28th of Nissan, we commemorated Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The date for Yom HaShoah is traditionally the 27th of Nissan, which marks the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

We chose to wait a day so that our upper school BERS students could participate and bear witness together with others in the Beth El community.

It was a moving evening that included a presentation of Holocaust era artifacts from the collection of Beth El member Jennifer Weitzner.

Items included prison uniforms, yellow stars, and even musical instruments made from desecrated Torah scrolls.

Teens and parents alike had a chance to see these objects on display and even handle them lightly. The tactile experience of holding a tambourine made from Torah parchment was for me, both sickening and necessarily jolting.

I think our greatest generational fear is that people will become numb to the realities of Nazi cruelty and the astonishing consequences of unchecked hate.

After viewing the collection another Beth El member commented to me “ they really need to get this into the public schools.”

I heartily agree and I think that the physical manifestation of the stories told by millions of survivors is a crucial and effective vehicle to educate our youth on the consequences of hate and the need for Israel.

We concluded the evening with a Maariv service that was punctuated by testimonial from a 9th grade BERS student on his grandfather’s escape from a death march.

It was incredibly moving to hear this story come from a young man who, at 15, is the same age as his grandfather was when he ran from the Nazis.

I want to compliment my colleagues Rabbi Megdal and Tali Moscowitz for putting this incredible evening together and helping our children to learn more about their heritage and the power of memory.

May souls of all those lost in the Shoah be for a blessing and inspire us to lead committed and meaningful Jewish lives dedicated to the sanctity of our people and our tradition.