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Special Yom HaShoah from Rabbi Aft (Please delete previous message)

04/16/2015 12:10:15 PM


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Dear Friends,


As we commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day today (and I hope that folks will attend the special commemoration at the JCC on Sunday evening at 7pm), this year's observance is different.


Most of you know that our B'nai Mitzvah students "twin" at their ceremonies with a victim of the Holocaust.  A number of years ago, one of our students sent his speech to a relative of the victim who was living in either Israel or New York.  In the student's speech, the Bar Mitzvah talked about the Holocaust and compared it to what was happening in Darfur.  The relative of the survivor asked the student not to make the comparison because he felt that the Holocaust was a unique event that shouldn't be compared to other genocides.


Although I agree that the Holocaust in Europe was unique, I believe that these comparisons can help us understand the gravity of what can happen to people in our world unless we take threats seriously.  I don't claim to be wise enough to know how to negotiate with Iran on nuclear issues, but am wise enough to know that one threatens to destroy a country and people that are dear to me, that we should believe him.


My hope and prayer is that as we think about the Holocaust or Shoah (fiery destruction) of European Jewry and think about the genocide in Rwanda, Darfur, and potentially other places, that we urge our leaders to believe people when they threaten to destroy us.  We need to be sure that our grandchildren don't have to speak of the destruction of Israel due to a nuclear bomb.


Is President Obama correct in wanting to negotiate with Iran?  Is Prime Minister Netanyahu correct in his assessment of those negotiations?  I leave that to you to decide.  What I hope we all will learn from this year's observance is not to be apathetic and to make our voices heard and that our leaders will be careful in their discussions on this issue.


May your observance of this day be meaningful to you.  I find that

lighting a yahrzeit candle sometime today is a meaningful way to remember the victims.  I also recite Psalm 23, the Mourner's Kaddish, and/or the Memorial Prayer for Martyrs which can be found in most siddurim or online.


Zichronam l'vracha, may the memories of the victims be for a blessing and inspire us to do good in our world,



Rabbi Bruce Aft

Congregation Adat Reyim


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