Between the Holidays - Yom HaShoab abd Yom HaAtzma'ut                                          

Dear Friends,

We find ourselves this Shabbat between two holidays – we commemorated Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Memorial Day – this past week, and we will celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut – Israel Independence Day – this Tuesday. A ceremony last weekend at the JCC and another at the Mahoning County Courthouse marked the former, while a community-wide celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut on Sunday at the JCC will mark the latter.

I fear that both of these holidays, still relatively new on the Jewish calendar in comparison, have lost some of their emotional impact in the last several years. The crowds at both of the community Yom HaShoah events were comparatively small, which doesn’t bode well for how effectively we will continue to get across the message that remembering the Holocaust must continue even after all of the survivors are gone. Seventy-plus years after the end of the Shoah, the horrors of that 12-year period of suffering and tragedy have, for too many people, faded along with the memories of the survivors. The world has seen too many tragedies and genocides since then to give the Shoah the uniqueness that it once held, and this is dangerous in many ways. It is up to us, therefore, to carry forward the memories of those who died and those who survived, so that, along with those who fight against all persecutions and genocides, we can collectively shout “Never Again.” G-d forbid that the Shoah should ever become our prime motivation for survival as a people, but we should nevertheless make sure that it will always receive the focus that it deserves as both memorial and motivator.

But Yom HaAtzmaut, still joyously celebrated in Israel, has also declined in intensity and in the number of Jews who celebrate it. I remember how the Israeli flags and foods, the music and the dancing, all contributed to the feeling that this was our celebration as well, that somehow all Jews everywhere could feel a greater sense of security that the State of Israel had been founded. As a people, most of us could still live chutz la’aretz, outside of the Land of Israel, yet still feel as if, in some way, we too had been redeemed. Sadly, due to many reasons and forces in and outside of Israel, our tie to Medinat Yisrael, the State of Israel, is weaker than in many years. While many will claim that our national tie to Eretz Yisrael, that is, to the land itself, is as strong as ever, I find that not to be the case for many people, especially younger ones – perhaps because it is difficult to separate feelings for the country from feelings about its government. Our once bright images of happy chalutzim dancing the hora have been replaced by other images of Israeli occupying forces on the West Bank. Neither set of images, of course, tells the whole truth, which always seems to be in the gray and murky center space. It is up to us as Jews who live in Diaspora to seek out and then report the larger truths and to build a relationship with Israel that is both supportive and appropriately critical, when that is necessary.

If we can accomplish both of these goals, giving the Shoah its rightful emphasis in Jewish life and in the context of world morality, and loving and supporting Israel while remaining realistic about her challenges, we can honor these holidays and promote them, to the benefit of all.

To commemorate the Shoah, let us sing the Partisan Song (Zog Nit Keyn Mol). Afterward, to celebrate the 69th anniversary of Israel’s founding, let us sing Hatikvah.

Text Box: Zog Nit Keyn Mol   Zog nit keyn mol az du geyst dem letstn veg,
 Khotsh himlen blayene farshteln bloye teg.
 Kumen vet nokh undzer oysgebenkte sho -
 S'vet a poyk ton undzer trot - mir zaynen do!

  Fun grinem palmenland biz vaysn land fun shney,
 Mir kumen on mit undzer payn, mit undzer vey,
 Un vu gefaln s'iz a shprits fun undzer blut,
 Shprotsn vet dort undzer gvure, undzer mut.

  S'vet di morgnzun bagildn undz dem haynt,
 Un der nekhtn vet farshvindn mitn faynd,
 Nor oyb farzamen vet di zun in dem kayor -
 Vi a parol zol geyn dos lid fun dor tsu dor.

  Dos lid geshribn iz mit blut un nit mit blay,
 S'iz not keyn lidl fun a foygl af der fray,
 Dos hot a folk tsvishn falndike vent
 Dos lid gezungen mit naganes in di hent!

  To zog nit keyn mol az du geyst dem letstn veg,
 Khotsh kimlen blayene farshteln bloye teg,
 Kumen vet nokh undzer oysgebenkte sho -
 S'vet a poyk ton undzer trot - mir zaynen do!  Text Box: The Partisan Song (Paul Robeson Version)  Never say that you have reached the very end, When leaden skies a bitter future may portend; For sure the hour for which we yearn will yet arrive, And our marching step will thunder: we survive!  From green palm trees to the land of distant snow, We are here with our sorrow, our woe, And wherever our blood was shed in pain, Our fighting spirits now will resurrect again.  The golden rays of morning sun will dry our tears, Dispelling bitter agony of yesteryears, But if the sun and dawn with us will be delayed, Then let this song ring out to you the call, instead.  Not lead, but blood inscribed this bitter song we sing, It's not a caroling of birds upon the wing, But 'twas a people midst the crashing fires of hell That sang this song and fought courageous till it fell.  So never say that you have reached the very end Though leaden skies a bitter future may portend Because the hour which we yearn for will arrive And our marching step will thunder: We survive!

 

Hatikvah

Kol od ba’le’vav p’nima,

Nefesh yehudi ho’miyah.

U’lefa-atei mizrach kadimah,

Ayin le’Tziyyon tzofiyah.

Od lo avda tikva-teinu,

Ha’tikvah bat sh’not al-payim

Lih-yot am chofshi b’ar-tzeinu

Eretz Tziyyon v’Yerushalayim.

 

 

Shabbat Shalom!