Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Yom Hashoah - why bother

I'm from the MTV generation. Generation Y bother. What does it mean to me? I don't feel. I don't want to remember. If I feel something, then I do. But if I don't, then no amount of memorials or Claude Lanzmann films will evoke feelings in me. They don't come on demand. Like a tap. I could imitate Joe in friends and stick a tweezer into my leg to make myself cry. But I don't want to cry. What is left to cry about? Who are we fooling?

Too many Jews base their identity on the negativity of the shoah. Did Judaism not exist before AH came along? Do we forget Avraham till the Chofetz Chaim, Mesopotamia to Minsk? Have we elevated Fackenheim's 614th commandment to the detriment of the other 613? Would half of American Jewry still identify as Jews if it hadn't been for the final solution? As the Jew-cum-Nazi says in "The Believer" "we should love the Jews to death". If we didn't have the Arab countries trying to inflict a second holocaust on us, many American Jews would've assimilated by now. Every time someone insults a Jew, or makes some reference to the war without referring to us, or suggests that other Holocausts may take/have taken place (Armenia/Darfur) Jews get defensive. ENOUGH. Move on. Who are you fooling?

In Israel it's called Yom Hashoah Vehagevurah. Day of remeberance for the Holocaust and Heroism. HEROISM? A lot of the focus in Israel is on Mordechai Anieliwicz and the Warsaw ghetto uprising. One story of heroism in an era of lambs to the slaughter. Kivney Maron. Only themselves and their kids. HEROISM! Trying to find the Israeli angle, the big strong modern Jew who isn't afraid of the big bad anti-semites. Holocaust revisionism at its finest. Who are those Israelis fooling?

I feel empty on Yom Hashoah. Emptyof all feeling. Barren of thoughts. The tears have run dry. There is nothing left to cry for.

Who am I fooling?



At 5/04/2005 3:33 PM, Blogger 2R said...

I agree and disagree on so many levels. I wonder what Spanish Jews were doing 60 years after the Inquisition was over. and if this were a blog instead of a comment i could go on... I think it was a dangerous line to feed to children of the past 50 stay Jewish b/c so many died so they could live..who would want to be a part of that...The Holocaust happened. Chalk up another nation that tried to rid the world of us on the scoreboard...oh look we're still here...

At 5/04/2005 6:28 PM, Blogger Needsabetterjob said...

You go, to an event, if you want to be a Mentch. I used to go then I stopped. I do want to attend something this year.
First of all, there are usually new stories that are told, that it is a shame if you would miss them.
In one event that I attended someones story resonated w/ another survivor as it was similar to hers and so 2 old friends met after 50 some odd years. There have been a number of them.
But that is not the reason to go. You go, thinking of the relatives that you never had a chance to meet, of the special character of the Eastern European Jewry, that was destroyed, and to pay honor to the survivors, whose suffering we cannot even imagine.

At 5/04/2005 7:29 PM, Blogger Mirty said...

My husband's father was a Holocaust survivor. We have his poetry and writings to read, and remember. That's enough for us. For now anyway. We can't quite deal with the public ceremonies.

At 5/04/2005 7:38 PM, Anonymous jen said...

I've never been able to work out why we didn't put it on Tisha b'Av. That's davka what Tisha b'Av is FOR!

At 5/04/2005 10:03 PM, Anonymous abby said...

i agree SO much. like there's a line between never forget and always remember.

At 5/05/2005 1:16 AM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

Thanks for your comments everyone.

I also sometimes wonder what a German teenager can ask their grandparent. Gazing at their aged grandfather in his rocking chair, imagining him in his SS uniform, do they really want to ask the dreaded question "Granps, what did you do during the war"?

At 5/05/2005 2:51 AM, Blogger menachem said...

just returning your comment, i like your blog.

also, checking out some blogs of people who have commented on yours (kind of like how you found mine), i laughed out loud when i saw you trying to play jewish geography on a muslim girl's site (the ali G comment). funny.

kudos on getting a post about yom hashoa up so quick. my blogs are usually about a week delayed from real-time. look for mine soon (maybe).

At 5/05/2005 3:22 AM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

thanks m. I wonder if the muslims have muslim geography - "oh you must know ahmed from Pakistan?" (I'm kidding everyone!)

At 5/05/2005 9:11 AM, Anonymous Chanandler Bong said...

Granted that antisemitism is definitely a subpar and highly negativistic reason to retain a Jewish identity, we cannot deny that it still serves a function. If persecution and antisemitism is enough of a reason for some people, we should be grateful that they allow themselves to feel connected even if only to that extent.
The most dangerous thing a Jew can do is allow himself to feel completely safe and comfortable in secular society and be lulled into a false sense of security. Focusing on antisemitism keeps us in check- it forces us to face the idea that we really aren't where we are meant to be; the world simply isn't right. If not for antisemitism, no one would care about Moshiach.
We should all attempt to find greater and more spiritual reasons to sport a Jewish identity, but if Yom Hashoah does it for some people, don't knock it.

At 5/05/2005 11:53 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

I must say that I respect you for your honesty. In high school, (A Bais Yaakov) we had a class about the Holocaust (or as they called it, "Churban Europe.") On the last day of class, she showed a video, called Genocide. I highly recommend it. I was crying sooooo hard, i couldn't stop. I wasn't able to sleep for days after that! It was so painful. Also, my grandmother and my great aunt are both holocaust survivors. Every time they roll up their sleeves to reveal those agonizing numbers, I get shivers down my spine. Tears in my eyes. My heart drops. I think, "How could this have happened? How could they survive? How can they remain religious??" Yet they did, by the grace of G-d. They made it through. And they are really really special. SO please please make yourself feel. It's so important for the survivors, for the goyim, and most importantly for yourself. Whoa.

At 5/05/2005 11:54 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Oh and by the way, a little shameless self-promotion: Please visit!! Look forward to hearing from y'all.

At 5/05/2005 1:56 PM, Blogger Chai18 said...

to Chanandler Bong: "If a Jew thinks that Berlin is Jerusalem...then a raging stormwind will uproot him by his trunk...a tempest will arise and spread its roaring waves, and swallow and destroy, and flood forth without pity. " Meshech Chochmah, by the Ohr Somayach, Rabbi Meir Simcha HaCohen from Dvinsk, pg.171-2.

i used to also be somewhat apathetic about all of this, ya sure there was the Holocaust but it is so far removed from me, i mean ya we'd have some sort of program in school, watch some movie or something and you feel sad, but you move on, you don't really dwell on it. but that all changed this summer, i went to eastern Europe, i saw the concentration camps, i saw the mass graves, the ghettos, the barbed wire. i walked out of Auschwitz a completely different person, since then i have been haunted by the holocaust, it will never leave me, everything i do, everything i experience will be tempered by the sheer unbelievability of what happened to our people. i have spent this whole year searching for some sort of closure, and i have realized that there is no closure for something like the Holocaust, there is nothing that can soothe the pain and anguish that our people went through. try hard TRK, try hard to feel, it is hard, but it is our responsibility to remember it is our responsibility to cry for the countless lives that were lost, for all of those who were not allowed to cry were not allowed to live. that is our burden, we must remember we must never forget what the world has done to us. Never again must we allow this to happen, never again must we allow the world to believe that Jewish blood is cheap. try TRK, try as hard as you can, fight yourself to feel. recognize that it is bad that you don't feel anything and fight it.

At 5/05/2005 2:29 PM, Anonymous Chanandler Bong said...

Chai, that Meshech Chochma is exactly what I was thinking of when I wrote my post.

At 5/05/2005 2:31 PM, Anonymous ClooJew said...

You lost me, dude.

While poetic, your words, lulei demistafina, don't follow one another. There is no coherent point.

Are you criticizing the hypocricy of the Jew who only feels Jewish when persecuted or reminded of persecution? For moving on? For not moving on?

Are you criticizing the heroism? The celebration of herosism?

What is it you're NOT feeling? What is it you're NOT bothering about?

I'm lost. And you can do better.

Aside to JEN: You are absolutely right. We already had a Yom Hashoa and it's called Tisha B'Av. In a thousand years, lulei demistafina, no one will remember Yom Hashoa. But Jews will still be sitting on the ground fasting one day in August.

At 5/05/2005 3:51 PM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

C. Bong,

Welcome back. Using Yom Hashoah as a basis for Jewish identity creates guilt-ridden, angst-filled, negative Yidden. There is no real basis for them marrying in or for keeping the very basic traditions their parents force on them - just because some lunatic called Hitler tried to annhilate some old-fashioned Jews somewhere far away? It's a dangerous game, and what kind of Jews are we "keeping"? Bedieved it's better than nothing, but it's not something.

Michelle, Chai and CJ,

Part of the point of my deliberately-unclear post was to say that I know I should cry and feel, but I can't, for many variegated (great word) reasons. I think if I went to Auschwitz and Dachau and watched that film I would actually FORCE myself not to feel. I'm not sure what good me trying to feel or to cry would do. Chai, I like your never again rampage, (you didn't quote the Remedy song - would've been perfect). I am a Jew because of Matan Torah. The Shoah was the latest in a long line of terrible tragedies, no amount of tears or mantras could come close to changing any of that. It happened, get real, move on. I live, act and breathe as a Jew for positive reasons, to serve G-d, to help my People, to improve the world and myself. Not because of AH (YSH"V). Because of Moshe Rabbenu, Moshe ben Maimon, Rabbi Shimshon Raphael, etc. The Jew whose identity derives from the holocaust has no Jewish identity. Gypsies, gays, communists, handicapped were all killed. The Holocaust doesn't define us. The Torah does. As for the heroism CJ, be real. A handful amongst millions who walked into the chambers. That's not heroism, merely a statistical anomaly.


At 5/05/2005 5:14 PM, Blogger menachem said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5/05/2005 5:22 PM, Blogger menachem said...


I think the point everyone misses about Yom HaShoah can be derived from what we know about the day they chose for it to be on. Yom HaShoah is observed on the day (or one of the days, they held out for over a month) that the ghetto fighters rose up in resistance. That's what makes the holocaust different from all the other tragedies that we faced, it was the fighting back!

i talked about this, but maybe not enough on this particular point, on my blog.

At 5/05/2005 8:58 PM, Blogger Needsabetterjob said...

I went tonight, it was a bit of a disappointment. The speaker was not good. He was more of a political person w/ his own political experiences to talk about, mostly about Anti-semitism.
I prefer to hear from someone who was there. I couldn't stay for the candles part because I had to do some work delivering.
it may be important next time to choose the event based on the speaker.

At 5/05/2005 9:56 PM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...


I commented there. I think that is a distortion of what happened, and historically innacurate.


At 5/05/2005 10:49 PM, Anonymous Chanandler Bong said...


You're speaking as someone priveleged with an intensive Jewish education and every opportunity to connect to Moshe Rabbeinu, Moshe Ben Maimon, and the like.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn't even know who those people are- if the Holocaust makes them remember they're Jewish, isn't that at least something?

At 5/06/2005 6:02 AM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...


Of course it is better than nothing. If someone marries in, keeps something because of the Holocaust, mah tov umah naim. I just don't think it happens much, and I think it is counter-productive. Check Cherkoff's post here who says it succintly:


At 5/06/2005 7:03 AM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

My community doesn't mark Yom Hashoa, for the reasons you cite: Our Jewishness is not marked by our persecution.

However, as the child of a holocaust survivor, who never knew his grandparents, aunt or G-d knows how many other cousins, I feel insulted by this.

I have the opposite opinion. I can't get into Tisha B'av, or sfira. How can I mourn the loss of Jews thousands of years ago? Maybe they should have incorporated Yom Hashoa into Tisha Beav. That way people would have to deal with it.

The shoa was the single biggest tradgedy that ever befell the Jewish people. Rabbi Akiva's students were outnumbered 200 to one by the number that were murdered 60 years ago. We should never forget this.

You can read for my mother's take on the holocaust.

At 5/07/2005 12:03 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Reading your blog, I would come to the same conclusion, if I were looking at every individual day without looking at the whole. It would be like looking at or celebrating Pesach without learning about the 400 years prior to it, Avraham, Noach, and Creation, etc. Living in Israel, we learn to appreciate the day, not just in of itself but as part of the greater picture and another day of remembrance that are included in the long Jewish history. By your reference the Gevurah, I obviously see that you're extremely from anything that has gone in this country in the past decade and a half. Otherwise, you would know that the "Gevurah" or HEROISM part of the day refers to everyone and anyone who tried to survive the holocaust (The woman defending her child is also a hero in Israel's eye; not just Mordechai Anieliwicz and the Ghetto Uprsing.). I only conclude by your lack of caring that your identity as a Jew is extremely lacking or that you are just so apathetic that anything that has happened to the Jews after the Chofetz Chaim is no longer relevant and does not apply to you. Also, it's very disconcerting and a paradox to think that you have no feeling for an event that only occured 60 years ago, but should have more feelings and connections to events that occured hundreds if not thousands of years ago. (Not, unlike your thoughts, that those are any less important.)All I can wish you now is to go out and try to learn a little more about what happened to our people and stop being so anti-"anything that has to do with Israel". I hope that you have a good BBQ on Yom Haatzmaut.

At 5/07/2005 5:26 PM, Blogger menachem said...

wow. OC, you really ripped into TRK there. kol hakavod for the flame comment. from your courtious reply on my post i wouldn't have thought you capable. maybe you read mine and some other's first, and then got to TRK and had just had enough. but don't take it all out on him! save some for the rest of us! we want to mourn the holocaust on tisha b'av! how DARE we!

At 5/08/2005 1:44 AM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

Thank you everyone for your different perspectives. I deliberately wrote vaguely because I wanted to provoke a variety of important reponses.

I think I better reply to OC, since she has "flamed" me apprently - I feel like a Whopper now.

1) I am a card-carrying fully fledged zionist, my credentials are impeccable there.

2) My post expressed the view (Bein Heyeter) that I know I should FEEL and CRY for the Holocaust, but a) I can't and b) no amount of crying or tears can change anything.

3) Having experienced Yom Hashoah and Holocaust ceremonies in Israel and Chu"l, I perceive that many people use the Holocaust for their own agenda. Israelis for heroism (which was still a small aspect of the Holocaust - the large majority of Jews did not show heroism). Secular Jews for Jewish identity (I argued with chanandler bong about that above). Charedim to show how much THEIR leaders did and the zionists didn't.

The Holocaust is a major event, in and of itself but also as part of a long history of persecution and attempted annihalation. I want the Holocaust to stand for itself, not to be abused by different groupings with their different agendas.

I hope I am now clear. No hard feelings. I always appreciate a bit of constructive flaming now and then.


p.s. bbq on yom ha'atzmaut? what's the hava amina? bring on the fleish!

At 5/08/2005 5:14 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

TRK, never any hard feelings. G-d, in His infinite wisedom, gave us a brain to think, debate, argue, extrapolate, and come to conclusions, whether right or wrong. I'm glad we're using those talents to learn new things and get different ideas from other people. If we stayed in a bubble, thinking that whatever we thought was right and didn't take the time to hear different points of view, where would we be?
btw, didn't mean to "flame" you. I hope I didnt offend you in any way. These kinds of debates can get heated some times. Look forward to reading more of what you have to say


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