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November 28, 2015 / 16 Kislev, 5776
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‘Memories in the Living Room’ Replacing Holocaust Memorials

A typical evening consists of a conversation with a holocaust survivor, an artistic interlude, and group discussion.

Photo Credit: Facebook

Memories in the Living Room is a relatively new way in which many Israelis participate in commemorating the holocaust on the official memorial day, in an innovative, meaningful and respectful way which is also very real.

The idea was born three years ago, when Adi Altschuler, 27, realized that it was Holocaust Memorial Day only after listening to a traditional memorial song on the radio, and understood she hadn’t had a clue that Yom Hashoah was starting that evening.

The next day, while watching a conventional memorial ceremony, she understood that there was a need for different ways for young adults to find their place in the day’s commemoration.

The following year, she organized the first Zikaron Basalon (Memories in the Living Room) event held in her house. The success of this first meeting inspired several of the participants to design a format which would enable them to spread the idea, and easily hold an evening in several homes at the same time.

Last year, Zikaron Basalon was held in dozens of homes, and in 2013 it expanded even beyond Israel’s borders.

A typical evening would consist of a conversation with a holocaust survivor, followed by an artistic interlude (reading, singing, watching a short video), and then an open, intimate group discussion.

Nadav Ambon, one of the original organizers, told The Jewish Press that last night, his event included a talk by one of the twin siblings which the Nazi Josef Mengele experimented on in Auschwitz. The talk was followed by a few songs with a guitar and then a very lively discussion of the phenomenon of “Holocaust Humor,” including the question of whether or not no-Jewish comedians, such as Ricky Gervais, should be allowed to do Holocaust jokes – as opposed to Seinfeld, who is part of “the tribe.”

According to the organizers, the number of invited guests should be large enough to allow a diverse and fertile discussion, but not too big so the desired intimacy would not be lost. We recommend inviting friends from various social groups to initiate a diverse conversation.

The Memories in the Living Room folks invite people to gather with their friends in a familiar atmosphere, to participate in a conversation with a holocaust witness, and to find connections between memories from that dark period to our communal and personal lives.

They also invite individuals to host or join a Memories in the Living Room event next holocaust memorial day. Check out their website.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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One Response to “‘Memories in the Living Room’ Replacing Holocaust Memorials”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The recurring questions which haunts survivors and their children echo through the halls of time. “Why didn’t they fight back? Why did they enter the chambers of death like sheep to the slaughter?” By our standards, such actions as placidly lining up against a wall to be shot or walking silently into the gas chambers or standing nude and obedient at the edge of a ravine filled with blood-covered bodies awaiting one’s own turn to die, defy all understanding. Indeed, anti-Semites would suggest that Jews were different, somehow not quite as brave, not quite as courageous as the average person. Our enemies will even conclude that the Jews were guilty of the crimes they were accused of, and hence with heavy conscience and accepting the punishment for their “crimes,” the Jews quietly submitted to their deserved punishment.

    Nothing could be a greater falsification of the truth. The hopelessness seen in their faces was not a reflection of guilt; rather it was a realization that they had been completely deserted and betrayed by humanity. The light of morality, conscience and brotherhood had been completely extinguished and for them life became a terror-filled abyss. Responsibility for their death clearly lies with the Nazis and their collaborators.

    Warsaw Ghetto uprising lasted as long as France’s resistance against Germany…Until a Jew is convinced that he or she is going to die anyway, armed resistance is suicide and suicide is not a goal. That applies to all Jews, regardless of religious leanings…dying with a weapon in your hand had meaning…The overwhelming majority of the resisting Jews were not trained soldiers, with almost no weapons and very little information, and had no idea what they were doing, yet, what they accomplished is incredible, if you think of the sabotage they carried out and other things, in all respects, not just in military terms.


    Not all Jews went "as sheep to slaughter," as they engaged in uprisings and breakouts at camps, death pits and mass murder sites, as well as attacks on the German military. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

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