The 27th of Nisan marks the solemn Yom Hashoah V’Hagevurah, Holocaust and Heroism Day, the day we remember both the atrocities of the Holocaust and the heroism and resilience of Europe’s Jewish community in the decades since.
The words “Never Again” are a mantra shared by generations of Jews since the Shoah.
Yet here, right here in our own free United States, we observe Yom Hashoah juxtaposed with the October 26 murders of 11 Tree of Life Synagogue Shabbat worshippers in Pittsburgh. More recently, we emerged from Shabbat Pesach to learn of yet another deadly anti-Semitic attack at the Chabad of Poway (CA) Synagogue.
Now names such as hero and victim Lori Gilbert-Kaye, and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the rav she gave her life to protect, are familiar in a way we wish we never knew.
The date of Yom Hashoah comes a week after the last day of Pesach and a week prior to Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, leading into Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
Yom Hazikaron is commemorated in Israel with a haunting siren that brings the nation to a stop.
For Jews, particularly American Jews, and even more specifically Jews who attend synagogues regularly, we now stop in our tracks at the “siren” of mass shootings, the hate speech of anti-Semitic elected officials and the constant reappearances of blatant anti-Semitism in prominent media outlets. The high volume of hatred drowns out the repeated weak apologies or feeble contrition.
So now it is Yom Hashoah in 2019 America. We need to work with organized Jewish organizations such as the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinic Council of America, Agudath Israel and others to support lobbying efforts geared to raising private and public money for enhanced security education and methodology. Look, we’d rather efforts and funds go toward Torah learning, but this is the new normal. We cannot stop going to shul nor should we or our children ever fear worshipping as a Jew in America.
If it’s “Never Again,” then let’s make sure that these are not just words, but actions.
We can never stop teaching our children to remember the Holocaust and how an unthinkable evil murdered generations of European Jews.
But now, as houses of worship have become the target of armed anti-Semites who have been radicalized like the most extreme terrorist, we should take their threats seriously and work with urgency to reverse the societal evils they represent.
Remember what Yom Hashoah is about. Also remember that “Never Again” starts here and now in the United States of America.