Religion & Beliefs

Remember the Holocaust, and Save Darfur

With the taste of matzoh still in your mouth, it's time for your next Jewish holiday.  This Sunday is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  The holiday has been around since 1959, and according to this site: In the early 1950s, education about … Read More

By / April 12, 2007

With the taste of matzoh still in your mouth, it's time for your next Jewish holiday.  This Sunday is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  The holiday has been around since 1959, and according to this site:

In the early 1950s, education about the Holocaust emphasized the suffering inflicted on millions of European Jews by the Nazis. Surveys conducted in the late 1950s indicated that young Israelis did not sympathize with the victims of the Holocaust, since they believed that European Jews were "led like sheep for slaughter." The Israeli educational curriculum began to shift the emphasis to documenting how Jews resisted their Nazi tormentors through "passive resistance"–retaining their human dignity in the most unbearable conditions–and by "active resistance," fighting the Nazis in the ghettos and joining underground partisans who fought the Third Reich in its occupied countries.

Which I find meaningful. That it was not only created as a day on which to mourn the deaths of our victims, but as as a day on which to celebrate the resistance and spirit of those victims.  I think this is an important distinction to make as Jews. Especially considering that our  culture offers such a wealth of oppression/victimization stories. 

I think it's useful to think about how we can see our history as one of passive resistance, and not just  a story about getting our asses kicked over and over.

But what can we do to celebrate this holiday, to pull the theme of resistance forward?

I've only ever celebrated it in one way.  As a Hillel director, at two different campuses, where my students (and I) read the names of the dead over and over for a 24 hour period.

Which always seemed appropriately somber, meaningful.  It felt like a funeral, and that seemed about right.  Until now.

But maybe that's NOT how I want to celebrate Yom HaShoah.  Maybe instead I want to find a way to resist something I dislike about the world I live in… in the name of the six million.

I'm imagining something like the Day of Silence.  Or the Immigration Boycott.  Something big and passive… to showcase how the Jews resisted, in the only ways they could, the atrocities of Hitler's Germany…

By resisting something else unspeakable– the genocide in Darfur.  Which  some people are thinking about this weekend already.

Obviously it's too late this year, but I'll encourage everyone to make a donation this Sunday, in the name of the six million.  A donation from the Jewish people to Darfur.  Or sign a petition, or two.

And I'm wondering, if I wanted to start something moving… would people play along? Would Jewcy readers help turn Yom Hashoah 2008 into a day for Darfur?