A Yom Hashoah Flashback

This last Monday, April 24, 2017, the Indianapolis Jewish Community commemorated Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. The event was hosted by the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, and their Rabbi, Brett Krichiver, did an outstanding job of putting the event together, which included Rabbis, Cantors and community organization professionals from throughout Indianapolis.

I was curious as to how many people were in attendance, and those who knew how many fit in the sanctuary thought that there were nearly 200 present. While that number was not overwhelming for six congregations and 1500 to 2000 families, it was certainly not horrible. It was also good to see a number of young families and children.

This event reminded me of a Yom HaShoah event more than 10 years ago that included eight congregations in northwest Indiana and the south suburbs of Chicago.

Eight congregations – almost 1000 families – 75 people in attendance – and, if you remove the Rabbis, Cantors and a congregational choir – 50 people in attendance.

The next day I wrote my Rabbi’s Desk stating that we have nothing to fear when it comes to neo-Nazis. We are doing their job for them.

When it comes to the Shoah, the Jewish community says never again, never forget. But I fear that remembering is much too passive a response for the dangers we face. Yes, we must remember, but what do we do to keep the events of the Shoah from reoccurring?

One of the many tragedies of that time was the firmly held belief that our neighbors would protect us – that it could not happen in such a civilized and cultured place as Germany. It could happen there, it did happen there, and it can happen anywhere. We must constantly measure how thin the veneer of civility is when it comes to Jews, because we are on the other side of the veneer.

I would suggest that Monday’s event is where we must start. To our enemies there is no Reform, Conservative or Orthodox – there is no Ashkenazi, Sephardi or Mizrachi – and, to our enemies, it does not matter if we ever step foot in a synagogue. We are Jews.

And it is time for us to remember that we are in this together. There is strength in unity. We may have different traditions, different ideas, different practices. But we all are Jews, and we forget it at our own peril.

Rabbi Stanley Halpern