This Monday is Yom HaShoah.
It is a day when we think about the genocide carried out, with stunning efficiency and naked evil, against our people. (Note that we cannot say that Yom HaShoah is “the day” because when we do so, that implies that we think about it only once a year, and that is not true.)
As is true every year, there are many commemorations in northern New Jersey, as we detailed in last week’s Jewish Standard – there are more details about one of them, featuring Edwin Black, held in Wayne, and sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, on page 15 this week. Each of them is bound to be profound and heart-stirring.
(To find our list, just google “Jewish Standard” and “Yom HaShoah.”)
Across the Hudson River, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the tradition of reading the names of Holocaust victims continues. A consortium of the rabbis and representatives of most of the local shuls, including Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist, come together to read the names throughout the long dark night. This year, the reading begins on Sunday at 10 p.m. at Congregation Ansche Chesed, goes until 8 a.m. there, and then, half an hour later, moves to the JCC of Manhattan, where it continues until Kaddish is recited at 7 on Monday evening.
Every year, now, the calculus of Yom HaShoah changes. The survivors age, and so do their children. New generations grow into awareness.
As we mourn the victims of the Holocaust – we cannot truly be said to remember them, because they died before the overwhelming majority of us had a chance to meet them – we also see and glory in the huge number and variety of their descendants.
Every single Holocaust survivor, every Holocaust refugee, has an important and entirely unique story. We should listen to every story, and be sure that it is not lost.
We also should look around, realize that it is springtime, realize that we all are still here, and that no matter what demographic challenges face us we can surmount them.
As unlikely as it seems, we’re still here.