Focused on the Past

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 Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating six million Jews who were murdered during WWII. It makes me think of the dozens of family members I lost in a most violent way. It makes me think of the hundreds of stories I saw and read and the effects I saw on Europe and it brings tears to my eyes. Today we will try to remember their towns, their lives and we are saddened by the life that was taken away and the culture destroyed. Jews lament for those who died as much as they lament for the empty synagogues and homes in Krakow as they do for the synagogues and cemeteries in Simi mountains Ethiopia. We lament and regret. We regret because we know we could have done something. Regret is not there when you know you could have done nothing, it is there when you know you could have done something and that is what makes it so painful and poignant.

Thus, it saddens me to see how often Jews react to injustice with words but rarely with deeds. We show indignation but rarely do we reach out and talk to those who are causing us harm and therefore most likely in control and would be able to stop. We forget the lesson of Purim, where it was not by getting angry at the situation but by speaking to the king that we were able to avert a tragedy. It is as if we expect hatred and violence and therefore resign to it and thus forfeit our right to act.

Every year, JDC sends Jews around the world, and I see the sadness these trips create in the words of Jews who come back over the Jewish life that is gone. But I see little effort to help today. We focus so much on the history and the sadness to use them as lessons for today.

Thus, months after synagogue closings in Addis-Ababa, where there is a community of ten’s of thousands of Jews, a community that reflects an ancient Jewish life of a thousand years deep in the heart of Africa, the community sits isolated and virtually abandoned and with little hope. Luckily there was Israel to help their starving neighbors in the 1980s when nearly a million Jews died of starvation in the Simi Mountains. Sadly, those million Jews who are forgotten today, they are not remembered on Yom HaShoah. Never again, seems empty when it happened again, thirty years ago and we say nothing. This leads me to believe that there will be again, and again and again. Because when we focus so much on the dead, we forget about the living.

Thus today, Jews are persecuted in Sweeden, France, Hungary and most of all, Ethiopia, little is done to change those incidents, forcing me to believe that we are not focused on communities of today, instead we choose to focus on those who already died, and only in one specific area of the world, mainly Europe. I am afraid that if we keep up this pattern, tomorrow, only when the community of Bete-Avraham are gone, will we pine for their community. If we keep this pattern up, one day, we shall pine for Israel.

It is said that those who remember their past, have a future. Yet sometimes, we are so focused on the past, that we are incapable of doing anything about the now and thus, loose a future.

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