Today was Yom Hashoah, a day set aside worldwide to commemorate the killing of 6 million Jews in Europe. It is a day to grapple not only with the senseless genocide, but also the question of how the inhabitants of Nazi occupied areas and the entire world was able to turn away from it or even worse abet it.
And we also turn to the modern world ask how and why we allow the genocides in Sudan, Rwanda, the Congo to continue, how there can be so many intelligent people that repudiate that the Shoah ever happened. No matter how much information about the Holocaust or genocide is out there, the world sometimes seems to be flooded by ignorance and lies. History is so easily forgotten or manipulated. Why do we still have to keep struggling to educate people after so many decades?
And there are others—both Jews and Arabs—who try to sabotage the Holocaust toward their own political ends. As much as I speak out against the suffering of Palestinians, I cannot but feel a surge of anger whenever someone declares the situation in Gaza or the West Bank to be the same as the Holocaust. I feel as if part of my history has been stolen from me and used in someone else’ textbook. There is actually a very excellent chapter about this issue of Arabs and Jews using the Holocaust in David Shipler’s book Arab and Jew.
In a world like ours, you might ask, how could there be an omnipotent and just G-d? How can we attach meaning to an event that really didn’t have any meaning? Does it cheapen the lives of those who died to try to assign a value, a meaning to the catastrophe? Do we negate religion and theology when trying to understand the events through those lenses?
Well now that I’ve criticized others for tacking on agendas to Shoah, I’m going to forward you a link from the American Jewish World Service about taking action against the genocide in Darfur. I don’t know if we’ve really learned anything from the Shoah, but I feel that we still have to speak out against genocide like Wiesel continues to do. It so angers me that nothing has been done about this genocide and others.
Pardes set aside time from the normal study week to commemorate Yom Hashoah. (Next week we are devoting time to both Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut.) I’ll spend a little time tomorrow writing further about the program at Pardes.