Some holidays and holy days get short shrift. I’ve finally finished clearing out all of the Passover odds and ends and all of a sudden it is the day before Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. I’ve left out the yellow candle delivered by my synagogue’s Men’s Club so that I remember to light it tonight and say a prayer in remembrance of the Six Million of our people, murdered out of senseless, mindless hatred.
I will make sure to light it with my daughter — we need to ritualize the remembrance together, because sometime soon in my children’s lifetimes there will be no survivors left to tell the stories of the Shoah. I need to make the space in our family’s life, just as I do for the holidays and observances that already take up so much space.
To spend eight days remembering that we were once slaves in Egypt but not to remember that we must be vigilant in every generation doesn’t really make sense to me. So, a simple act of lighting a candle in the darkness seems an easy, if heartbreaking thing to do.
And then there are the double observances of Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s day of remembrance for its fallen soldiers, and Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. In Israel, one immediately follows the other, a bittersweet and classically Israeli way of viewing the world. In North America, we celebrate these days because we are part of the Jewish community that sees Israel as central to our identity and our existence, no matter where we live.
How do we make room for these important days? There will be commemorations and celebrations of each day in our synagogues for sure, but I also want to direct you to what the community as a whole is doing. On April 24, the Legow Family Israel Program Center is sponsoring a Yom HaZikaron program at the Cooperman JCC in West Orange. On April 25, UJC MetroWest will commemorate Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut jointly with the Jewish Federation of Central NJ at an event at the Green Lane Y in Union. And, on April 26, celebrate Israel’s birthday by joining us at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston for a fabulous Yom Ha’atzmaut concert with David Broza, one of Israel’s biggest stars.
All of the “yoms” can be confusing. They are modern holidays, created out of modern terrors, risks, and great reward. Let’s each make some space for these newer holidays, growing ourselves as we perpetuate new traditions.
See you soon, I hope!