From Wednesday night through Thursday is a solemn day for the Jews. Its full name Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה; which in English translates to“Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day.” The day is more commonly known as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה), a worldwide day of remembrance for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its allies, and for the Jewish resistance in that period.
This year’s commemoration is particularly relevant as only seven decades after Hitler was defeated, Antisemitism and Holocaust denial is growing at an accelerated rate throughout the world.
In Israel Yom HaShoah is a national memorial day. It was inaugurated in 1953, anchored by a law signed by the the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion and the Israeli President at the time, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. It is held on the 27th of Hebrew month of Nisan (April/May), unless the 27th would be adjacent to Sabbath, in which case the date is shifted by a day. What started out a commemoration recognized only in Israel, is now a day of remembrance throughout the world.
You may have heard that the reason the 27th of Nissan in the Hebrew calendar was chosen was because in matches the date of the start of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising –that isn’t true. The ghetto uprising was considered for Yom HaShoah, but rejected because it would have meant the observance would have taken place the day before Passover. Those who observe the Passover holiday are busily preparing their homes for that observance that includes getting rid of all of one’s yeast/grain related products as well as rituals observed at home, there was no room for an additional observance
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The 27th of Nissan was chosen because in Jewish tradition is everything bad is always balanced by something good. For example, in Deuteronomy God says I put before you a blessing and a curse; or in Exodus the Golden Calf is followed by forgiveness. In that same vein exactly week after Yom HaShoah is Yom Ha’atzmah’ut Israeli Independence Day (their equivalent of July 4th). So the horror of the Shoah is balanced by a Jewish people having the power to defend themselves.
We light a memorial candle on Yom HaShoah as a recognition that the souls of the victims are still alive in our hearts and that many entire families were murdered meaning there are none left to mourn for them. We light a memorial candle on Yom HaShoah to remember never to forget.
Much of modern Antisemitism is different from the traditional Jew-hatred, it is disguised as anti-Zionism, and claimed to be simply criticism of Israel. The truth is that it is a very nasty form of Antisemitism. Muslim terrorist groups are targeting Jews for no other reason than their faith.
Israel is demonized and held to double standards not used against any other country including some of the world’s most despotic regimes. The same people who criticized the Israeli fence built to keep out terrorists were silent about the fence Saudi Arabia built on their border with Yemen. The “left” repeatedly calls for boycotts of Israel because they claim it is “an apartheid state.” However, Israel is so totally free of apartheid that anyone who has spent ten minutes there knows the accusation to be an outright lie. So why keep on saying something untrue?
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