Turning No into Yes

Adam Kohn and grandchildren holding signs saying "Art must go on even after Auschwitz" . Adam Kohn's family visited Auschwitz in 2010. They produced a video of the family dancing to "I will survive" in front of a synagogue, and three concentration camps. Click photo to see video.

Picking up on Eli Weisel’s observation that he has spent his entire life trying to turn “No” into “Yes”, Joshua Hammerman discusses why remembering tragedy is only half the story of Holocaust remembrance:

If the message is survival for its own sake, it is not a survival that is well-rooted. Ultimately, that message won’t be enough, unless it is accompanied by the joyous refrain, “Shiru l’Adonai shir hadash,” “Sing unto the Lord a New Song.” And that is why “Never again” is also not enough.

… The Holocaust can be a spark of Jewish identity and even Jewish pride, but it is not enough to ensure another generation of Jews

…. When I see the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been raised for scores of Holocaust memorials and research centers in America, it doesn’t bother me at all. The memory must remain fresh. The world needs to know; our children need to know and take pride in their heritage, even as regarding Auschwitz

….But there must be a matching grant. The same amount of money must be poured into Jewish education, synagogues and day schools, into making affiliation affordable for every young family, and into programs that emphasize joy rather than victimization. It should not and cannot be one or the other; it must be one and the other…. Auschwitz will reside at the core of the next generation’s Judaism, but we must understand this — the Holocaust will be reinterpreted. The facts will remain the same — they must — but the lessons will change. Just as the exodus from Egypt must be reinterpreted “b’hol dor v’dor” (in every generation) so will the Shoah. It is hard to imagine discussing these events with fewer tears, but they will. It is hard to imagine the bitterness dissipating, but it will. It is hard to imagine anyone coming to reaffirm the joy of Judaism through these darkened binoculars, but they will.

For the full essay see The Times of Israel.

Categories: To Be a Jew | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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