As we finish off the final crumbs of matza we turn our attention, almost immediately, to Yom HaShoah. This is no coincidence – Pesach, at the heart of our religion, is a time when we re-experience that past in order to inspire our future. Torah teachings describe this time-awareness as linked to the freedom we gained at Pesach – to a slave, time belongs to a master and as such the passage of time has no meaning. There is nothing to commemorate in the past and there is nothing to look forward to in the future. As a free nation, we live with a national identity that encompasses past, present and future.
As we move forward from our festival of freedom, we also remember the more recent Jewish hardships of the Holocaust. The atrocities of those years remain fresh in our national memory and each of us as individuals must do what we can to preserve that national memory.
Yom HaShoah begins this coming Monday evening and there are two particular ways that we encourage everyone in our community to commemorate this significant day. First Yom HaShoah UK invites us all to participate in their national community online event via this link.
Additionally, we will be joining thousands of others participating in the Yellow Candle Project. One and a half million children were killed during the Holocaust, many of whom have never had a Yahrtzeit lit in their memory. We have almost 200 candles for our community, each of which has the name of a child who perished in the Holocaust.
The candles should be lit on Monday evening in memory of that child – you are encouraged to share pictures on social media, particularly on the Shul Facebook page.
I would also like to make a special mention of our own Pinner Yom HaShoah Committee who worked hard to put together a programme this year that unfortunately cannot take place. The event focussed on the 80th anniversary of the Occupation of The Netherlands and we would have had the opportunity to hear Selma van de Perre and Bart van Es in person. Although we will not be able to hear their words, the Yom HaShoah committee has kindly shared the following links:
“My name is Selma” will be published in English in September. A summary of her incredible story of resistance and survival can be found by clicking here.
Bart van Es is the author of the 2018 award winning ‘The Cut Out Girl’. You can watch Bart talking about his book and see an interview with him, together with Lien de Jong, the Jewish child his grandparents hid, here:
Despite the challenging times we find ourselves in, and perhaps all the more so because of them, Yom HaShoah is an essential part of the Jewish calendar. We hope that our commemoration next year will be different to this year but I encourage everyone to take part in any way they can this year as well.
Rabbi Ben Kurzer