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Yom HaShoah

05/02/2019 09:47:08 AM

May2

Today, Jews and many others around the world are commemorating Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day, remembering the murder of six million of our brothers and sisters.  At B’nai Torah have marked it in special observances with our religious school and dailyminyan.  We also encourage everyone to take part thecommunity-wide observance this coming Sunday.
 
This year, our observance of these days is further colored by the experiences of our own American Jewish community in the past year. The attack at the Chabad of Poway, following six months to the day after the even more deadly assault on Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, has led many to reassess the feelings of safety we have long enjoyed as American Jews. 
 
It's hard to find the right perspective to compare our American experiences with those of the generations before us. Next week, I will be leading a group from our congregation to Eastern Europe. We will walk the path from the tracks at Auschwitz and see memorials to communities that were decimated. We will also see Jewish communities that have emerged from those ashes to create new vibrancy amidst continued uncertainty. 
 
Sometimes people ask why more Jews did not resist or flee Europe as the tide of anti-Semitism began to rise. In fact, many tried, even if not all succeeded. However, there were others who had become so used to the anti-Semitism, discrimination, even murderous attacks that were facts of life in Europe for over a thousand years that they assumed that "this too shall pass."
 
We can learn from their experience. We must understand that we must be vigilant against hate. Anti-semitiism from white nationalists is the deadliest at the moment, but hate cannot be excused from any part of the political spectrum, and there is work to be done to protect our communities. 
 
However, we must also understand how fortunate we are to be able to stand tall. Unlike the Jews of Europe 80 years ago, we have the resources to defend our physical safety. Looking at the scope of Jewish history, we are privileged to live in a country where most residents believe in tolerance. There are opportunities to build bridges and find shared purpose even the face of violence that has taken the lives of many innocents, not just Jews.
 
We must also understand that this privilege gives us an opportunity. Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the Rabbi of the Poway congregation, has been vocal that he and his community will not be deterred by these attacks, and neither should we. We must make use of our freedom to make a difference in the world by being proud of our traditions and undeterred in our faith. Let's not waste that opportunity. 
 
One way we defeat terror is simply by living as Jews. We can express that value this Friday night and Saturday morning. Our congregation will be joining congregations around Atlanta and beyond in a "Shabbat of Unity" with prayers of support for those affected last Shabbat, and, just as important, joining them in a statement of courage and purpose.
 
We hope to see you this weekend. 
Thu, November 14 2019 16 Cheshvan 5780