Yad V’shem is one of the most compelling places that one visits on a trip to Israel. It is the memorial to all who perished in the Holocaust and is set up in such a way that one walks through the experience of the victims of this atrocity.
One building at Yad V’shem is dedicated to the one-and-a-half million children who perished. The building was dedicated by a family from Los Angeles who lost a five-year-old boy named Anshel. The entire building is dark, except for the flames of an infinite number of candles, with the names of children being broadcast twenty-four hours a day. The experience of walking through this section of Yad V’shem deeply touches one’s heart and soul, as we try to conceive of the evil that was the Holocaust.
On one of our family trips to Israel, as we entered the children’s’ memorial, the first name we heard was Batya Rachel Greenberg. This was not just another random name. This was the young girl with whom my daughter “twinned” upon her Bat Mitzvah. Hearing her name was startling to us, and brought the Holocaust a little bit closer to all of us.
This Monday evening, May 2nd at 6:30pm we will commemorate Yom Ha-Shoah at the Temple. We will give honor and pay tribute to the six-million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. And yes, it is important that we be present. Why? Because as we remember, we remind ourselves of the evil that can occur when supposedly good people stand idly by. We remember because these are the people who lived and who passed to us the values and ideals that we cherish. We remember because it is the right thing to do.
In a world that is experiencing an increase in anti-Semitism; in a world where so many people are the victims of prejudice and racial hatreds, our coming together is a protest against the wickedness that persists in our world.
Zachor is a Hebrew word that means “remember.” I hope that people of all ages, children and adults, will join us as we come together this Monday evening to remember. Over the years I have come to learn that while we may not know of them, there is hardly a family among us that did not have its victims. May our remembrance give honor to those who perished, and may we together affirm “never again;” not for us, and not for any people.
Rabbi David Greenberg