Posted by The Jewish Center on 04/13/2018
This Shabbat is a unique time in the Jewish Calendar - it is the Shabbat between Yom HaShoah and Yom HaAtzmaut. It is the Shabbat between Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Israel's Independence Day. I am proud of the fact that we held a special Yom HaShoah program this week that included the participation of Holocaust Survivors and family members and that we also have a wonderful series of programs coming up soon to celebrate Israel's 70th Birthday. I encourage you to find one or two of the programs that interest you and join us. Some will be fun and others will challenge us intellectually as we all contemplate our relationship to Israel and the role Israel plays politically, culturally and religiously in our lives.
In so many ways, Israel is a center of Jewish life for world Jewry today. I believe that North America is another center of Jewish life but Israel holds a unique place for us as Jews; it is our homeland, a place to which we have a religious connection and a place where Jewish life is celebrated every day. I accept the challenges that Israel faces today and the challenges in the relationship between Israel and world Jewry but I also see Israel as a place unlike anywhere else in the world - where Jewish life can thrive.
As I think about the observance of our 20th Century commemorations on the Jewish calendar (Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut) I recall observing them all in Israel during my years of study and I recall the powerful emotional experiences of each day. As I observe them now in Princeton, I often go online to see how these days are commemorated and I read the articles and speeches that are presented in Israel. This week, as I thought about Yom HaShoah, I thought about the fact that the number of living Holocaust Survivors goes down every year. According to an article in the NY Times, worldwide the estimated number of living Holocaust Survivors has fallen to 400,000. We owe it to this group to make sure that we continue to hear their stories and share them with our children so that future generations will know what happened. As we do, we need to include not only the tragic stories of death and hatred but also the powerful stories of hope and love and survival.
In honor of the Holocaust survivors living in Israel today and in honor of Yom HaShoah, a special video was created and posted on Facebook this week. It is a recording of a song that was not written about the Shoah but can have a powerful connection to the story. The song is based on the phrase "Am Yisrael Chai - The Jewish People survive". I remember singing this song 30 years ago at summer camp but now, after watching this video, I will associate it with the Shoah. In this video, the people that sing this song are Holocaust Survivors, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. It is a powerful piece. Here is the link to the video:
Am Yisrael Chai - the Jewish People survive. That is reason for celebration.
Rabbi Adam Feldman