Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yom Hashoah

Today marks the date that we recall the victims of the Holocaust, known in Hebrew as The Shoah. Yom Hashoah, which is a day of remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust, is celebrated worldwide, but noted for the poignant observance of two minutes of silence in the morning throughout the land of Israel. On a given signal, everyone stops what they are doing and stands in silence, frozen in time as they consider all of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the other millions killed during this horrible time of man's inhumanity to man. It is ironic this year that Yom Hashoah follows the date which Nazi sympathizers use as their clarion call, the birthdate of Adolf Hitler. The two killers at Columbine chose that date for their venous crimes in the hope that other like-minded men of hate would rally around their misdeeds. It is good there was no such movement and their crimes of hate were seen more as the desperate measures of criminals, than the brave or courageous actions they had mistakenly believed others would view their heinous and sociopathic acts. It is incredible to think that ten years have passed since that horrific day or that more than 70 years have elapsed since Kristallnacht ("The Night of the Broken Glass") when coordinated, outrageous acts of hooliganism and thugism were perpetrated against helpless Jews and others. If history has taught us anything, it is that hate in all its searing manifestations will rise to challenge man and it is up to the dedicated actions of brave, righteous souls to take it on with all the strength they can muster. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel went even went further. He said that inaction was terrible, but that apathy was even worse. This is true at Virginia Tech, where two years ago another madman's twisted actions left 31 souls in his sick wake to mourn, making Columbine look like a veritable walk in the park. It is true in countries that would forsake the sanctity of people to live peaceably as in Sudan's Darfur region. It is true in Gaza where rockets rain down on Israeli settlements in a daily barrage of hate. It is true in Iran where leaders advocate against the right of Israel to exist while slowly working towards gaining the mastery of horrible weaponry that could be used to launch yet another Holocaust against Jews. And, sadly, it is true in the hearts of others who spurn the spark of human kindness and fear of God, putting themselves above others as a mockery of the Divine. So for one moment think about the vast blanket of hate that enveloped the world seven decades ago under the banner of hate and consider the souls of the one and a half million children whose lives were extinguished as a result. Then think about the contributions to society they might have made were they not cut down so early in their youth. We are still paying the cost for the consequences of the Holocaust today even while other men of hate lay in wait hoping to kill, maim and torture those whose lives they despise. As Elie Wiesel reminds us, the worst sin we can commit is simply not to care.

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