Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Today, as hopefully most of you know, is Yom haShoah. Now, I agree that there is room to debate from a halachic perspective whether such a day is necessary when we already have 9 Av. (It does strike me as ironic to argue that no mourning period can be designated apart from 9 Av in the midst of sefirah, itself a distinct mourning period.) However, the bottom line is such a day does exist, so ex post facto the debate is moot. To ignore the day risks causing ill will that far outweighs any gain. I think it is a bit disingenuous to think that 9 Av in a typical summer camp is given over to real reflection on the Holocaust. Yes, a kinah or two is added at the end, but that does not do justice to the topic in the way a day like today can. The Holocaust is rightly understood as one of the two defining events of 20th century Jewish life (the other being the creation of the State of Israel), and in fact, an event of unparalleled magnitude in modern world history. I recall when we lived in NJ that even the secular school system had a requirement that the Holocaust be taught as part of the curriculum (I do not know if the same holds true in NY State). Since our students learn world history anyway, why should we also not take the opportunity to use this day for Holocaust study and remembrance?