Every year as Yom Hashoah approaches I am overwhelmed with emotion.
My heart sinks further and further into multiple layers of sadness as I read and watch the accounting of horror that no decent person can fathom ever took place.
And yet it did.
Our people want so desperately to believe that something like that won’t happen again and so we protest shouting, “never again”. We believe that education is the answer so we put up museums, testimonials and accountings hoping that if people simply see what hate can do it will help.
That is not to say we shouldn’t do these things.
It is our obligation.
It is our history and it molded our character and world view.
We have taken our pain and built.
Built ourselves into stronger people,
Built ourselves into more compassionate people,
Rebuilt our precious land, people and identity.
It is part of our story and it is essential for us to always remember who we are and never forget what hate can do.
But we should not preach to the world and expect sympathy, compassion and rights to spring forth from the nations. It’s time to stop deluding ourselves into thinking that if they only know of our past they will care about our future. I have no faith in mankind after the Holocaust. We witness this very day some people who we “educated” on the horrors of the gas chambers chanting “Jews to the showers!” For the truly vile antisemite, it is simply a tutorial on how to rid the world of Jews.
I am not saying there is no answer. There is an answer. And the answer is education, but not simply teaching people about the Holocaust. The answer is in educating children (and adults for that matter) on how and why we should be moral and ethical people. Not just to prevent against another Holocaust but in order to build a healthy, productive and decent society. We must learn to appreciate every person as valuable and necessary. We need to teach through love and understanding, not just to value life but to live it with meaning and purpose. We need to speak good, do good, be good and reward good. We need to speak up as soon as we see an injustice before it spins out of control. We need to try even when trying seems futile and we must always have faith that there is a God and there is holiness and if we strive to make life better we will succeed. As God states over and over again in this week’s Torah portion,
קְדשִׁ֣ים תִּֽהְי֑וּ כִּ֣י קָד֔וֹשׁ אֲנִ֖י יְהוָֹ֥ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶֽם:
“You shall be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.”
This is the command that comes before and after all the moral and ethical laws stated in the Parsha that are meant to mold us into the type of people who could ensure that “never again” will not just be a slogan but a truth lived.