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Rabbi Lisa's Message


Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, was this past Sunday evening through Monday. On Yom HaShoah, Jewish communities around the world remember the 11 million lives lost under the Nazi regime (6 million Jews and 5 million other oppressed and targeted minorities). Indeed the Holocaust is one of the darkest periods in human history. On Yom HaShoah we remember unthinkable acts, unimaginable cruelty, unfathomable numbers. Remembering together is key. 

As I shared at our Yom HaShoah service this past Sunday evening, the Shoah poses an enormous existential challenge to Judaism–namely religious belief, faith. Can one believe in G-d after the Holocaust? How does one practice Judaism and engage in prayer if our relationship with G-d is fractured, or non-existent? For many, G-d died during the Holocaust. How could there be a G-d in the face of something so dark and sinister? 

Many ask point blank, where was G-d in the Holocaust? Consider this poignant response from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Where was man? Where was humanity?” From Heschel's point of view, the Holocaust, and all the smaller moments that led up to its unfolding, is on people, not G-d. Whether that makes us feel better, worse, confused, it is also on us to step away from the despair spiral. 

We face a lot of darkness and uncertainty now in the world. The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas is destabilizing and leaves us feeling like we have no agency. The despair spiral is real and has pulled many of us in. Leaning into despair and hopelessness may feel like the preferred, seemingly easier choice. However, now is the time for bold audacity. Now is the time to lean into hope. I felt the power of this kind of hope when we sang HaTikvah together during the Yom HaShoah service. And here’s the thing . . . hoping together is far easier than going it alone.

So let’s make an effort to seek each other out. To sing together. To pray together. To laugh together. To hope together. It may seem small and trivial, but hoping together is totally within our sphere of influence.  

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