A panel of rabbis discussed the advantages and disadvantages of commemorating the United Nation’s “International Holocaust Remembrance Day” taking place on Wednesday, December 27th.
Hosted by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky on behalf of the Shem Olam Holocaust Faith Institute, the panel included Rabbis Tuly Weisz, Yitzchak Adlerstein, Neil Winkler and Yehoshua Grunstein. Shem Olam was established in 1996 to present the aspects of faith, courage, resilience and strength in Holocaust education and research.
With the increased use of the Holocaust as an analogy for any and all human suffering, the rabbis debated over Zoom the advantages and disadvantages of universalizing the lessons of the Holocaust.
Despite expressing concern over the use of superficial analogies and unfair comparisons to the unparalleled devastation of the Shoah, Israel365 News publisher Rabbi Tuly Weisz unequivocally argued that the Holocaust has vital lessons for the entire world, not just the Jewish people. “I am not overly concerned with universalizing the Holocaust,” said Weisz, “after all, the Jewish people play a universal role in history as a ‘kingdom of priests and holy nation’ according to the Bible.
“We are the world’s spiritual canary in the coal mine, whose particular suffering serves as a warning against all human suffering. If we particularize the Holocaust too much, we will make it’s vital lessons irrelevant in a world that is still filled with so much hatred and intolerance.”
Asked what more our generation could do to promote the memory of the Holocaust, Rabbi Weisz remarked, “We are living within living memory of the horrors of WWII, and so rather than commemorating the Holocaust, we must show more compassion for Holocaust Survivors.”
Weisz continued, “There are more than 200,000 Holocaust Survivors living in Israel today. Sadly, tens of thousands of whom are living below the poverty line. Tens of thousands are also suffering from cognitive decline with very poor quality of life. Each of us has an opportunity, and an obligation, to give generously of our time and money to our beloved Holocaust Survivors so that they live out their remaining years in the dignity that they deserve.”
The Israel365 Charity Fund supports Holocaust Survivors suffering from poverty and health issues. Learn more about how you can help Holocaust Survivors in Israel.