Yom Hashoah’s Necessary Story

This is a season of remembering.

Last week, during the holiday of Passover, we remembered one of the defining events of Jewish history — the Exodus from Egypt. On Sunday, our community will gather to remember one of the defining events of our time — the Holocaust, and the effort to annihilate European Jewry some 70 years ago.

The annual Yom Hashoah Commemoration, sponsored by Baltimore Jewish Council, will be held at Chizuk Amuno Congregation. This and other gatherings on Sunday remind us to remember the horrors of the Holocaust and its threat to the survival of the Jewish people, and to honor the memory of those who perished.

As the generation of those who lived through the Shoah diminishes, our memory fades. Yom Hashoah therefore calls upon us to remember the Holocaust in new ways. Until now, much of our connection to and understanding of the Shoah came from Holocaust survivors. We have relied on their experiences and memories to guard us from forgetting. And they have been exemplary teachers, leaders and educators.

But the perseverance of survivors is not a long-term strategy for remembering. For that we can turn to the Passover Seder and its repeated exhortation to teach our children the story. The Seder shows how you don’t need to be a survivor to remember, and you don’t have to have lived in the past to feel for it or to appreciate it.  Rather, you can “ remember”  through symbols, through experiences, through questions and through a ritualized telling.

In order to ensure our communal memory of the Holocaust, we need to make sure that our children are participants, or at least attendees, at our Shoah commemorations. We need to teach them to remember.  We need to educate them about the symbols and the experiences of the Holocaust.  And we need to recognize that it’s not going to be too long before our children will be the ones who will be relied upon to remember and retell the Holocaust story.

If we are to assure “Never again,”  we need to make sure that the memory lives on and that the story continues to be told.

A Measure Of Torah

From reading the Book of Ruth to eating cheese blintzes

Shavuot is the holiday commemorating God’s giving of the Torah to the ancient Israelites at Mount Sinai. It also is known as the Feast of Weeks and is observed on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan. The festival is one of the shalosh regalim that includes Passover and Sukkot, when Jews made pilgrimages to the Beit HaMikdash, or Holy Temple, in Jerusalem.
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Shavuot—A Festival of Milk And Honey

Shavuot marks the anniversary of the “giving of the Torah.” It was at this time that God revealed himself on Mount Sinai and gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The Torah is said to be “as nutritious as milk and as sweet as honey,” because so many foods consist of dairy dishes and perhaps a touch of honey.
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The Ten Jewish Values Of Shavuot

In the 16th century, the mystics of Safed revitalized Shavuot observance with a brilliant form of adult education – an intellectual seder called “tikkun layl Shavuot.”

They put together a selection of the entire Jewish tradition that could be studied in one night. In an age of sound bites, an all night test is too long.
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Milky Way

In addition to being a singer, and imagining himself an actor, Elvis Presley spent a great deal of time serving as his own interior decorator.

At his Memphis home, visitors are invited to admire (if you’re an Elvis fan), or just tolerate (if you’re not), his “jungle room.”
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Countdown to Shavuot

From the second night of Pesach (Passover) to Shavuot, the next festival, there are exactly fifty days, seven full weeks linked by a ritual called S’firat ha-Omer, Counting the Omer (named for an offering brought to the priests as the Temple in Jerusalem at this time of year). In a sense, then, Pesach is not only a festival itself but the first part of a lengthy observance that runs through Shavuot, a progression from the liberation from Egypt through the revelation at Sinai. For that reason alone, the Omer period has importance.
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On Shavuot, An Exploration Of Contemporary Issues Surrounding Conversion

Next week, Jews celebrate Shavuot. The holiday, which falls this year on May 15 and 16, commemorates God’s giving of the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai more than 3,300 years ago.

On Shavuot, it is customary to read The Book of Ruth.  Therein, Ruth the Moabite, also known as a “righteous convert,” tells her mother-in-law, Naomi, of her desire to convert.
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Israeli cheese and wine for Shavuot

Part of the joy of living in Israel as opposed to visiting for a short break is that it affords one the opportunity to spend weekends discovering Israel’s hidden gems, only unearthed through opportune conversations or chance encounters on a morning hike.

Hiking through the Jerusalem hills, wooden signs adorned with an image of a goat lead the way to a delicious goats’ cheese dairy, nestled in a cavernous hollow close to the Sataf springs. Owner Shai Seltzer, with his sons, has been creating his mouth-watering goat cheeses for close to 40 years.
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Opening The Eyes of Children to Passover’s Miracles

We are about to sit around the Seder table with our families and do what we do best, ask questions. Why is this night different from all other nights? Why do we dip twice? We encourage young and old to ask, ask, ask. Through the wisdom of our tradition, answers unfold before our eyes. It is a paradox. We encourage all to question and then, go right ahead and expect that we should believe. The staff turned into a snake. The Red Sea parted. How do we make the transition from questioning to a leap of faith? We do this by embracing all of life, by noticing the miracle in all of God’s creations. We teach our children to question and believe, all at once.
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