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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust Memorial Day’

Can it Happen Again?

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel.  Here we are almost seventy years since the Nazis were militarily defeated by the “allied forces,” there are hardly any more survivors still alive and Holocaust memorials are bigger than ever in Israel.

Israelis commemorated Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Sunday night, marking the start of 24 hours during which schools, government offices, the IDF and local municipalities will hold ceremonies to honor those murdered by the Nazis and their helpers.

The national flag was lowered to half mast at 8 p.m. at the start of the main ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke and Six Holocaust survivors lit memorial torches in memory of the 6 million Jews who were murdered

The IDF Chief of Staff  Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz  led the March of the Living from Auschwitz to Birkenau.  Even on our small old TV screen, you could see the tears he fought to hold in during the ceremony.  In Israel, even the greatest generals are Jews who can cry when confronting the Holocaust.

On Sunday, at Rami Levy, Sha’ar Binyamin, the workers, both Jews and Arabs rushed under extra stress to close the giant discount supermarket early so workers could attend Holocaust Memorial Ceremonies, because the main road #60 was to be closed for United States  Secretary of State Kerry’s return trip from Ramallah to Jerusalem.  If they didn’t finish on time, everyone, Jews, Arabs, employees and customers, would be “locked in” Sha’ar Binyamin until the convoy was considered safely through.

CONSIDERING all of the Holocaust history which is part of Israeli culture, are we immune from another massive slaughter of Jews?

Prior to Nazi Germany’s systematic murder of six million Jews and a few million other “undesirables” by Nazi standards, the world, including the victims thought the idea of such a slaughter totally impossible, unthinkable.

Step by step and stage by stage, there was denial and confident misreading of the signs.  Those who did see the dangers, like Ze’ev Jabotinsky were condemned and shunned by the mainstream Jewish World.

The following is a translation from Yiddish of Jabotinsky’s touching and sad speech in Tisha B’ev, Oct. 24, 1938, Warsaw, Poland. It was his prophetic warning to his people, to the masses of his brothers and sisters:

“It is already three years that I am calling upon you, Polish Jewry, who are the crown of World Jewry. I continue to warn you incessantly that a catastrophe is coming closer, I became gray and old in these days, my heart bleeds, that you dear brothers and sisters, do not see the volcano which will soon begin to spit its all consuming lava. I see that you are not seeing this because you are immersed and sunk in your daily worries. Today, however, I demand from you trust. You were convinced already that my prognoses have already proved to be right. If you think differently, then drive me out of your midst. However, if you do believe me, then listen to me in this 12th hour: In the name of G-D!! Let anyone of you save himself as long as there is still time, and time there is very little. (complete article here)

Remember, too that the allies’ defeat of the Nazis had nothing whatsoever to do with rescuing Jews.  They fought to save European countries and Great Britain from Nazi rule. And remember that the military experts, post 1967 Six Days War were certain that the Arabs would never dare risk attacking us again.

We should be seriously worried by the rise in anti-Semitism.

Report: Anti-Semitism worldwide up by 30% in 2012

A new report published Sunday, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, noted a 30 percent increase in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism worldwide in 2012.

The report, by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, said the past year had seen “an alarming rise in the number of terrorist attacks and attempted attacks against Jewish targets, and an escalation in violent incidents against Jews worldwide.”

The report presented an extensive review of various anti-Semitic trends, including anti-Semitic discourse in the public and political spheres and similar expressions on the Internet, especially in social media. Facebook and Twitter, the report said, have become a breeding ground for anti-Semitic and fascist groups promoting hatred against Jews.

It’s dangerous to ignore and whitewash such things.  Remember that most people, including Jews and Israelis refuse to take Arab threats to destroy and annihilate the State of Israel seriously.

‘Memories in the Living Room’ Replacing Holocaust Memorials

Monday, April 8th, 2013

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.

Hamas Attacks Sderot with Missile to Mark Holocaust Day

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Gaza terrorists chose Holocaust Memorial Day to attack southern Israel with a missile that underlined President Shimon Peres’ message on Holocaust Memorial Day that “the journey for justice and freedom is not yet over.”

The rocket exploded in an open area, causing no injuries but interrupting a Holocaust Day ceremony as people scurried to a security shelter. The ceremony continued shortly afterwards.

Residents and police have not yet determined if the explosion cause property damage.

Israel responded “proportionately” last week to two rocket attacks on open areas in Sderot and the surrounding Sha’ar HaNegev region last week. The IDF bombed two terror sites without injuring anyone.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon last week repeated a years-long litany of threats that Israel will not remain silent in the face of rocket attacks.

Judging by last week’s response, Israel has not changed its policy not to upset the international community with “disproportionate” retaliation and instead continues to play Russian Roulette and wait for a Kassam missile, which has no guidance system, to fall in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Peres: Holocaust ‘Cries from the Prayer Shawls’

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The Holocaust “cries from the prayer shawls the hair, the shoes that we see with our own eyes, resonates as we step on the stones of the ghettos, [and] it floats like a ghost in the barracks of the camp, President Shimon Peres said at the beginning of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Sunday night.

“The noise of those murderous trains which have ceased stills rings in our ears, said the president in the presence of IDF officers, Knesset Members, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Quartet’s Middle East envoy Tony Blair and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, John Baird,

“The Holocaust will not sink into the dark hole of history. It is here with us, burning, real,” President Peres continued.

“Nothing can remove the greatest darkness that mankind has known The 74 years which have passed are more biography than history. Millions of names are still missing, of parents and children, of whole Jewish communities who were murdered….

The Jewish people are a small nation in number but large in spirit. That spirit cannot be burned in the ovens. From the ashes of the Holocaust rose spiritual redemption and political rebirth. We rose and we built a state of our own….

“The Holocaust is an orphan with no comfort and a moral responsibility without compromise.

“Not all the flames have been extinguished. Crises are once again exploited to form Nazi parties, ridiculous but dangerous. Sickening anti-Semitic cartoons are published allegedly in the name of press freedom.”

75th Anniversary Reunion

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Israel Independence Day is a national holiday in Israel. This year it falls on Tuesday, April 20th and is celebrated either publicly or within the family circle. The ceremonies begin eight days earlier with Holocaust Memorial Day. One week later, we commemorate Israel’s fallen soldiers and terror victims on Memorial Day. As the sun sets, the national flag is raised from half-mast, the music begins to play, and the festivities begin in honor of Israel’s 62nd anniversary.

 

In Zionist religious communities, a festive Ma’ariv prayer service begins with special prayers thanking God for the establishment of the State of Israel, and concludes with the Hallel prayer. Groups in many communities gather for programs of nostalgia and Israeli songs. Peace and friendship reign throughout the country.

 

In the morning, after the special Israel Independence Day morning prayers, many families join together for picnics and hikes. Some families travel in search of an open piece of grass on which to set up their grills and beach chairs and sit with friends and family telling stories, playing ball and eating grilled meats.

 

This year, a special event is being planned for the families of the thousands of Bnei Akiva graduates who attended Camp Moshava in the USA and who came on aliyah to Israel. We plan to meet in the Neot Kedumim Nature Preserve near Modiin for a day of friendship, special events and nostalgia.

 

Dozens of American yeshiva students from all over Israel will serve as guides and supervisors. Shiurim are scheduled throughout the day, to be given by well-known rabbis who were former Moshava campers. Ball games, competitions and special children’s activities are planned, as are nature walks and tours in the nature preserve. It should be a very exciting day for former campers, their children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren.

 

The massive Machanot Moshava reunion will be celebrating the following milestones:

 

Commemorate And Celebrate

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

     Pesach, the holiday of freedom, is over but in Israel we have several other holidays of freedom immediately following Pesach. Unlike the rest of the world, Israel takes Holocaust Memorial Day very seriously. Not only is there an official, government-sponsored ceremony at the Kotel in Jerusalem, but many large and small communities also commemorate the day. We remember the six million who were murdered and gratefully acknowledge that we are alive and free, despite the terrible attempts by many nations to eradicate us. 

     My community of Hashmonaim held a very emotionally charged ceremony, in which our youth acted out scenes from the Holocaust. Our young participants quoted children who did not understand why they were being singled out for the terror and horror perpetrated by the Nazis, and they portrayed families torn asunder by the anti-Semitic European nations of that day: the Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Austrians, Russians and their allies. 

     Our rabbi strongly condemned the modern day Hitler/Haman of Iran, Ahmadinejad and called upon us all to strive never to allow our enemies to cause another Holocaust. Six torches were lit by by survivors, their children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, many nations of the world receive the Iranian terrorist with warmth and understanding and agree to listen to his hatred and evil. 

     Despite the hundreds of participants at our commemoration, not one sound was heard during the presentation. Our community remained absolutely silent as the emotional story unfolded. It was an amazing demonstration of how this day of remembrance affected our community. 

     Holocaust Memorial Day requires its own week of reflection, and the other commemorations and celebrations are not held until one week later. 

     Monday evening, April 27, marked Memorial Day. We commemorate the sacrifices of so many of our youth who died on the battlefield to ensure that Jews can live free from Arab tyranny.  We have public commemorations, but most of this day is spent in private reflection and mourning for parents, children or friends who lost their lives to keep Israel free and independent. The emotional commemoration is especially poignant for those youngsters who are still serving in the Israel Defense Forces (including three of my grandsons), who understand the importance of their service to the nation.

 

      It is a day of personal and public mourning as sirens cry out across the country and cars, trucks and buses stop and the country stands at attention in silent anguish for their sacrifice. What other entire country stops for a moment and remembers together? 

     Several of these sacrifices were not made years ago, but rather yesterday, last week and last month. Every Jewish cemetery in the country has its memorial services with prayers and tears. There is a collective sorrow that may even be greater than that felt on Holocaust Memorial Day. This loss is close to everyone in the country. 

     Yet, we cannot live with the pain and sorrow without relief and joy. As the sun sinks below the horizon, a spontaneous shout of joy is heard at the start of Israel IndependenceDay. People dress in their holiday finery and celebrate with happiness and prayers of thanksgiving for the creation of the Jewish State. Many of us recite the Hallel prayers of thanksgiving to G-d because of the many miracles that occurred leading up to this day.    

 

          Most religious and non-religious Israelis are aware that we could not have achieved this victory against millions of enemies without G-d’s help. It was G-d’s hand that defeated the Egyptians at the Red Sea, and it is He who defeated the Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Saudi Arabians, and their many supporters during Israel’s War of Independence and all subsequent wars. 

     Israel, its leaders and its soldiers are greatly in need of your prayers – maybe even more than in the past. Many of today’s leaders have little faith, and we must ask G-d to open their eyes and give them understanding, so that Israel will survive and flourish.  

     If you do not have a copy of the “Prayer for the Soldiers” and “Prayer for the State of Israel” in your siddur, please send me an email message (dov@gilor.com) and I will email you a copy to print, or you may send me a stamp-self-addressed envelope c/o The Jewish Press.

A Rude Awakening

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005

Last week Israel remembered the Holocaust but received a rude reminder that its immigration policy admits many non-Jews into Israel.

On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, when Israel commemorates the murder by the Nazis and their many helpers, of six million of its brethren in the concentration camps and ghettoes of Europe, the police arrested an Israeli soldier who was acting strangely in the City of Ariel. They suspected him of having narcotics but were even more shocked when, during a body search, he proudly showed them that he had a red Nazi swastika tattooed on his forearm.

While being questioned, the soldier admitted that he supported neo-Nazi organizations and allegedly stated that he hated Jews and Israel. He is reported to have stated that he hates ‘all Jews and blacks and they should all be murdered.’

The soldier’s family came to Israel from Latvia some nine years ago. They have had a difficult time in Israel and are in debt. When questioned, the mother is reported to have stated that she ‘understands her son’ and that she disagrees with the philosophy of the Jews. ‘Since my aliyah I have found many deficiencies in Judaism and the Jews.’ She readily admitted that they are not Jewish and she explained to the dumbfounded police investigators that the only reason that they came to Israel was because of the economic aid and opportunities in Israel.

Unfortunately, this incident will have little impact on the non-religious ministers who now run the Ministry of Interior. In the past, I have been at the airport many times to help American Jews through the first hours of red tape in Israel and the Ministry of Absorption staff (mostly former Russians) often whispered to me that there were no Jews among the 50 or 100 new Russian immigrants awaiting processing. How long will it be before the Israeli Ministers realize that their immigration policy is hurting Israel?

In keeping with my long tradition, I invite any readers who do not have the prayer for the State of Israel and for the soldiers of Israel, to send me, care of the Jewish Press, a stamped self-addressed envelope and I will send them a copy of these prayers. As Israel approaches its 57th birthday we need your prayers more than ever.

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/a-rude-awakening/2005/05/18/

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