Tonight marks the beginning of Yom Hashoah VeHagvurah--Holocaust Remembrance Day. The literal translation is Day of [remembering] the Holocaust and the Strength. My ulpan teacher told me that in the early days of the Medina, when survivors of the Holocaust were coming to Israel en mass, the sabras had a hard time understanding them. They asked, "Why did you accept these decrees? Why didn't you fight? How could you allow this to happen to you?" It is the perennial כצאן לטבח--sheep to the slaughter--question. These pioneers who sacrificed everything and fought like warriors so the State of Israel could be established simply could not understand how six million people could be obliterated.
Eventually, I guess, people came to understand the גבורה--the strength--it took to live through the Holocaust. The large brave acts of defiance, such as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the greater strength it took to maintain a shred of humanity when indeed humanity had slipped into an abyss of evil.
And so tonight and tomorrow, we remember those who were murdered and those who survived. In a country where joy and sorrow are intertwined daily, where we have so much to be proud of and so much to shed tears over, we pause for a day and think about the survivors who defended and built this country of ours, and we thank them. And we take pride that today Israel exists, that we are strong and that Jews all over the world know they have a country waiting with open arms for their return whenever they are ready to come home.
The Stuff That Lasts, Part Deux
4 months ago