At last night’s Yom Hashoa ceremony, the President of Israel warned of “the rise of extreme right wing parties with neo-Nazi tendencies.” The Prime Minister on the other hand recalled that ten days after Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany, Oxford University students overwhelmingly passed a resolution that “would under no circumstances fight for their King and Country.”
Last week the Denmark School in Jerusalem had its students sing John Lennon’s Imagine. They imagine that to live in peace and happiness we need only to eliminate individual property, nations, religion, and belief in God. Others think that sweet-sounding lullaby reflects a dangerous intellectual and moral bankruptcy.
Some Jews like having Yom Hashoah because it’s an annual reminder that we must stand up to bigots and defend the weak and the different. Other Jews like having Yom Hashoah because it’s a reminder that Jews cannot rely on others, not even on the cosmopolitan secular humanists. Especially not on the cosmopolitan secular humanists.
We disagree about the most fundamental issues regarding what it is to be Jewish, and what it is to be human. We disagree about what the Holocaust was, how it could have been prevented, and how we must prevent the next one.
And yet, for at least one day a year, we stand as one. Despite our core philosophical differences.
We remember our shared humanity, our shared history, and our shared destiny. We stand together in our commitment to spread goodness and life, not evil and death. We declare together that we will live and we will laugh and we will love, and we will help others do the same. And maybe spread a little extra life and love in memory of those whose lives were cut short.
May their memory be a blessing.