Sundown today, Wednesday 4/11 through Thursday 4/12 a solemn time for the Jews, Yom HaShoah, 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, we also remember the Jewish resistance in that period.
This year’s commemoration is particularly relevant as less than eight decades after Hitler was defeated, Antisemitism and Holocaust denial is growing at an accelerated rate throughout the world, yet it is mostly ignored here in America, and led by members of the government in Europe.
In Israel, Yom HaShoah is a national memorial day. It was inaugurated in 1953, anchored by a law signed by 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 (generally sometime in April/early 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 it 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 (and eating the last pizza for eight days) there was no room for an additional observance.
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 (the Israeli equivalent of July 4th). So the horror of the Shoah is balanced by the rebirth of the Jewish nation and the power to defend ourselves.
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 so there are none left to mourn for them. Generally, on the anniversary of the death of a close relative Jews light a candle in their memory. We light a memorial candle on Yom HaShoah to remember the Nazi’s victims, their lives and the promise never to forget.
Much of modern Antisemitism is different from the traditional Jew-hatred, it is disguised as anti-Zionism, and the haters claim that it is simply criticism of Israel. The state department defines antisemitism as:
“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
“Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism:
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews (often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion).
- Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective—especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
- Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
- Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.
- Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
- Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions
- Applying double standards for Israel by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations
- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist [also known as Zionism]”
The amazing part is that the definition was created under the administration of Barack Obama, probably the most anti-Semitic presidential administration since FDR (FDR will be handled in a later post) Who among other things, held a double standard, and made demands he didn’t make of the Palestinians or real countries, and accused Israel of blood-libel type acts similar to the classic anti-Semitic canards. Similarly, his two secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, Obama blamed Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions.
Anti-Semitism in this country occurs regularly and is mostly ignored. The progressive movement in America generates most of the Antisemitism in the country (if you don’t believe me just go to sites such as Daily Kos, or Huffington Post, and search the words “Jew” and “Israel”). Interestingly although whenever a grass-roots conservative movement begins to grow, the same progressives use fake charges of Antisemitism as tools against the conservatives such they did with Steve Bannon or President Trump…