The Best Way to Honor the Victims of the Shoah
As we mark yet another year that has passed since the liberation of the camps, the question is often asked: If the murdered could have one request fulfilled, what would it be?
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week we mark Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Memorial Day. It is the day set by the Knesset to be observed as the annual day of remembrance and mourning for the victims of Germany’s “Final Solution” of the Jewish People.
There may very well be nothing equivalent in all of history to the Holocaust, the attempt at extermination of the Jewish people. The Jews, with no country or army of their own, were defenseless. There were ghettos and gas chambers, drowning and firing squads. The creativity of the Germans was unprecedented in terms of how to murder as many people as quickly as possible.
As we mark yet another year that has passed since the liberation of the camps, the question is often asked: If the murdered could have one request fulfilled, one dream to be realized, one prayer for those who would survive the inferno, what would it be?
Well, it is not a stretch to say that they would hope and pray that even though they were turned to ashes, the Jewish People would continue to survive. That we would be safe, that we could protect ourselves. That Jews would continue to be Jews, marry Jews, keep up Jewish traditions, and have a state of our own.
As such, allow me to suggest the greatest – yes, the greatest – way to commemorate the dead and honor their memory, which is committing to be Jews! Committing to Am Yisrael Chai! (the Jewish People lives forever), committing to a Shabbat dinner. Committing to marrying only Jews. A commitment to producing Jewish children and educating the next generation.
A Jew is not alone, and a Jew is not independent. A Jew is a part of a nation that has rights, responsibilities and expectations. We must not let the victims down. We must not let our grandchildren down.
Bear in mind that while Hitler may have made the largest dent on Jewish history, he was not the first to try to destroy the Jewish People. It has been happening since at least as far back as the days of Pharaoh, who also had a plan to exterminate the Jewish people. There were the Romans and the Babylonians. There was Torquemada, there were the Cossacks, there were the Crusades, there was Hamas and there is Hezbollah. The list is endless.
As Tevye said in “Fiddler on the Roof,” being the Chosen People is not always such a great honor.
However, anti-Semites can hurt us but they cannot destroy us. As we just read in the Passover Haggadah, “In every generation there is someone who will rise up to try to kill us, but God will save us from their hands.”
The future is bright. In just the past year Israel has made peace with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and its sworn enemy Sudan. Anyone who lived through “The Three No’s” of Khartoum can only say that the peace with Sudan is nothing less than Messianic.
May it be God’s will that the era of persecution has come to an end and the era where mankind will live together in peace is beginning. May we see the building of the Third Temple, speedily in our days. Amen.
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