Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, begins tonight.
I've just attended a service at the Conservative shul Bonai Shalom here in Boulder with all of the Boulder Rabbis and Jews (and non-Jews) from across the city. It was emotionally exhausting and also very beautiful. Two survivors spoke - their faces, stories, their language, their experience and wisdom is so needed. As the last of this generation pass away, we remember that life and death hinge on memory, and that we - Jews and non-Jews - must now struggle with how to keep that memory alive.
The poem "Shema" by Primo Levi, read tonight at the service:
You who live secure
In your warm houses
Who return at evening to find
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider whether this is a man,
Who labours in the mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a crust of bread
Who dies at a yes or a no.
Consider whether this is a woman,
Without hair or name
With no more strength to remember
Eyes empty and womb cold
As a frog in winter.
Consider that this has been:
I commend these words to you.
Engrave them on your hearts
When you are in your house, when you walk on your way,
When you go to bed, when you rise.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house crumble,
Disease render you powerless,
Your offspring avert their faces from you.
Also, see this incredible New York Times story about a sefer Torah that was saved from destruction in the Shoah.