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93http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2012/04/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---04_20_2012
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 04_20_2012
04/19/2012 11:00 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
April 20, 2012

 

                A wise observer of life remarked, “Between periods of digging in the dark, we must endeavor always to transform our tears into knowledge.” On Sunday, April 22nd, at at 3:00pm, at Congregation Brith Shalom, Houston’s Jewish community will gather to observe Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. We are between periods of darkness so we use this time wisely to transform our tears into knowledge. Every day we persist in our mutual efforts to overturn ignorance and bigotry, to plant seeds of awareness and tolerance.

                Recently, in a middle-school classroom in Houston, a young Jewish girl came home and told her parents about her teacher’s social studies lesson. In the lesson, the teacher taught about countries that harbor child slaves and commit cruel acts against them. On the list of guilty countries was Israel. The young Jewish girl was upset and confused. Her parents grew concerned and incensed. The family talked together and reviewed the materials sent home by the teacher. Unable to resolve the problem alone, the parents called the local office of ADL. Jodi Bernstein ably and quickly responded. Not surprisingly, the Internet revealed unscrupulous websites with bogus information and outrageous allegations. It wasn’t Israel that used children as human shields and it wasn’t Israel that held children against their will. Her office quickly assessed the material and then intervened to provide correct and age-appropriate material to the teacher. The teacher responded with gratitude for the new lessons and the updated information. He re-taught the lessons, informed his department, and aimed to undo any misunderstandings among his students. It was a success for ADL and the community.

                Our history is replete with myriad examples of those who re-learned, but too many more who failed to learn. So, Yom HaShoah is critical to us, more than any other day of Jewish remembrance. It is, for us, a day to attempt to reconcile how, in the middle of the 20th century, a time of industry and budding modernity, such inhumanity against humankind could take place. But, more so, it’s our time to remember those who perished in the atrocities of the Holocaust. They cannot be forgotten or else the experience and its lessons will be for naught. That can’t happen.

                Anti-Semitism rises and falls but it will not be extinguished entirely in our lifetime. The goal is to use this time “between periods of digging in the dark” to do absolutely everything we can to overturn inhumanity to humankind wherever we find it. Obviously, we have to take care of the Jewish people and its future, but the knowledge we’ve gained from the tears we have shed have taught us that we can’t only remember in our homes and synagogues. The WORLD has to know! The Jewish people have cried tears of bondage and suffering; they have been marked for genocide and left in heaps of ashes. There isn’t a nation or a people on earth that hasn’t suffered on its way to becoming great or in its effort to maintain that greatness. The tears that give way to knowledge become the foundation on which the future is built. Then, any future period of darkness can be postponed, ideally, forever, to save the Jewish people and all people.

                Yom HaShoah calls us together to preserve our relationship to the past and awaken our hope for the future. Only in fellowship with our community can we accept nothing less than the mutual promise that knowledge and understanding will bring us closer to peace between peoples.

                This Shabbat, we pray, “O God, we have struggled long enough. We know that too many tears have been shed in the world; and too many voices have been silenced that once shouted for freedom. We have learned, “Your teachings are a veritable tree of life for those who hold fast to them; they show us ways of pleasantness; and guide us along paths of peace.” May the lessons we have taken to heart mark a new beginning where joy fills the hearts of all Your children; and, love binds us in a world of nations dedicated to real peace. May this Shabbat and Yom HaShoah be dedicated to Your presence in our life, and the covenant that sustains us.”

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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