Yom ha-Shoah

Every year I wonder about our community Yom ha-Shoah Memorial.  It is one of the most well done commemorations that I have ever attended.  Richard Friend does an amazing job at varying speakers with AV with music.  It is both touching and uplifting.

And yet, something is missing. 

 Rabbi Weiss has a designed a Yom ha-Shoah seder which is quite powerful.  It is interactive and experiential.  His program does not allow you to be passive.  All of you senses are impacted.

And yet, something is missing.

Avigdor Shinaan wrote a Megillat ha-Shoah which is also quite powerful.  It is a beautiful, creative liturgy laced with references to many places in Jewish literature.  It forces the listener to think.

And yet, something is missing.

How might you create a ritual for Yom ha-Shoah?

Does Yom ha-Shoah need its own ritual?

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8 Responses to Yom ha-Shoah

  1. doni says:

    i am guessing that most people who are two or three generations removed dont feel the same about it as people who lived through it, or were raised by those who did. most things are less intense with for most people as time passes. maybe it is just that we do not feel it since we weren’t there, and cannot really comprehend?

  2. Sometimes I am convinced that Yom ha-Shoah absolutley must have its own unique ritual. There are other times when I think that with time, the Jewish community will come to view the events as part of our history of suffering. Maybe in 1493 people thought that the Inquisition must have its own ritual, but by 1593, people seemed to have assimilated the information. Our generation will ultimately be the ones to decide as we will soon see a time when there are no longer any living survivors.

  3. Evenewra says:

    What is missing for you? Is it that you can’t feel the experience fully? Similar to not feeling the exodus fully during Pesach? Or something else?

    I went on March of the Living as a teenager, determined to FEEL fully everything I could. By the time I returned I was so drained that I no longer felt this need. I’d like to think I tried to turn that grief into a desire to be creative instead. (Creativity includes everything from writing to doing good in the world.) But I’m not sure if I did. And I am now back where I started, uncertain of how much I feel about the Shoah, or of how much I SHOULD or want to feel.

  4. Rabbi Jeffrey Fox says:

    I think that I generally have a powerful emotional experience at most memorial programs. I am just not sure if that is what we should be seeking to create for Yom ha-Shoah. Maybe we should be learning, daveing, fasting or something else. I am not convinced that the statndard model – a few speeches, tesimony from a survivor and a few songs – is enough?

  5. Jon Fox says:

    Yes, there were a few things missing. As Iris pointed out, Kaddish and other prayers were missing. But more important– and I didn’t take attendance– my impression is that a lot of Kesher members were missing. And without placing any sense of judgement on Doni’s comment, I’m afraid he may be hitting the nail on the head.

    Three generations later and much of American Jewry is starting to feel that it couldn’t happen here or couldn’t happen again. Three generations later and, along with the last of the survivors, it’s starting to fade. And sure, if one is fortunate to grow up in a family with no direct Holocaust connections it’s easy to see how even something we would all describe as the Archtype of Evil becomes something that has become absorbed, digested and relegated to “history”.

    The worldwide Jewish Rabbinate needs to move beyond where we are today. Hundreds of years ago, Rabbis had no trouble creating new holidays, new fasts and new observances. Is the Shoah any less worthy of formal observance than Tisha B’Av? Or Purim? Or Chanukah?

    As it has been said, if each generation can be made to feel as if he had personally been on a railroad car or in a camp we might make some progress. How do we get there?

    It might take a shift of emphasis, perhaps. Sure, it’s not fun to consider the fate of the victims and the graphic horror of the camps, etc. But surely, there is another facet of the Shoah, namely the inspiration of the survivors and what they have done in the sixty-plus years since 1945. It might be avered that Jewry has never been stronger than it is today. And that the determination of the survivors, manifested in the State of Israel and in the determination of Jews around the world not to be victims again is the most important outcome of the Shoah. Maybe what has held us back from doing more with the Shoah is the focus on what was lost. (If Haman had won or if the Greeks had won, we wouldn’t be celebrating Purim or Chanukah). So maybe the “trick” here is to focus on something to celebrate… not just something to mourn.

    Perhaps sixty years is still too soon to have real perspective on the Shoah or to fully comprehend G-d’s underlying design.

    Anyhow, sorry for the ramble, but until new thought is injected into the Shoah, we will continue to have a sense that something is missing.

    Jon

  6. mom kept a list says:

    until we know how to know what we don’t know, we won’t know what to do.

  7. mom kept a list says:

    sorry. what I meant to say is that I grew up hearing about mom’s list of names of those who were among the “six million.”

    there was nothing for me to personally do except perhaps get to know what I could about some of the people on “the list” and try to live the type of Torah-true Jewish life that they started to live.

  8. What About says:

    What about what some have called The Silent Holocaust , by which we lose so many people
    to intermarriage, etc.

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