In a twist of fate, this year’s Alpert JFS Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) tribute to the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and the heroism of the Jewish resistance of the period, was celebrated online. There were no public gatherings in schools, synagogues or community centers. Despite the fact that COVID-19 has affected the way we teach, feel, talk and learn, we remembered – together – while apart. We did this for Holocaust survivors, for ourselves, and for future generations.
Our virtual celebration was led by Alpert JFS Holocaust Care Manager Eva Weiss, who was born in Eastern Europe, whose parents survived the Holocaust.
“I have been doing Yom Hashoah presentations for the past 20 years, and this one was totally different,” she said. “There has never been a time more important for tradition, continuity, connection and familiarity with things that are meaningful. Perhaps the universe is telling us to share and care for others, and presenting us with a renewed potential to make history relevant. We need only to look to Holocaust survivors for inspiration and hope, remembering what we have, and what we have endured as a people.”
Yom Hashoah has a special significance that is at-once heartbreaking and heartfelt: if a moment of silence was given to each of those who lost their lives, the world would be silent for 11.5 years, coupled with the heartwarming fact that Jewish life has gone on. Holocaust survivors had children who had children, who had children. The chain that Nazi Germany sought to break has been soldered together, and it is strong.
As it is said:
Chazak Chazak V’nitzchazek; Be Strong, Be Strong, Let Us Be Strengthened
The fact that we celebrate Yom Hashoah in April is not by coincidence. It is the month that Israel’s Knesset began discussions about a date for Holocaust Remembrance, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising took place, and when the Knesset officially passed the Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Law, signed by David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister of Israel at that time, and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, then President of Israel.
In today’s climate, it might be all too easy for some to embrace intolerance, cruelty and meanness. It is imperative that the voices of Holocaust survivors, and the voice of Jews everywhere speak out against the anti-Semitism of the past, the present, and the future.
We need to be resilient, persevere, and rejoice in survival!