Today is Holocaust remembrance day, the one day a year we sit back and reflect on the memory of the over 6 million Jewish souls stolen by the Nazis. Every year this commemoration gets more poignant as more and more Holocaust survivors fade into history.
The question that must be asked, however, is, did we learn the lessons of the Holocaust? I don’t think we really have. Jews are still divided, internal hatred is rampant and intermarriage and assimilation is quickly leading us down the path to self-annihilation.
I know it’s politically incorrect to say that we can learn some lessons from the Nazis, but the truth is, every situation, whether good or evil has a moral lesson attached to it.
One of the first thing the Nazis did was separate husband from wife, child from mother. While this tactic added to the cruelty of their mission, it also served a practical tactical tool to weaken the resolve of the people they were trying to destroy. United we stand, divided we fall. While mothers longed and worried for their children and fathers and husbands wondered about the fate of their families, they weren’t focusing on the immediate threat and how to fight back.
Today we are still divided. Secular and religious Jews are divided, so much so, that in certain American communities they don’t even acknowledge the existence of the other. Some segments of Jewish society have become elitist closed door clubs. Derech Eretz is virtually non-existent and as a result of all this, many Jews are disillusioned with the nation and are turning their backs on it and everything associated with it.
The Nazis had a policy that if one of your parents or even your grandparents were Jewish, then you were Jewish.
We, the Jewish community, spent the last 40 years debating “who is a Jew”. Even today, many members of different segments of the Jewish community will privately say that other Jews who don’t follow the same traditions as them, aren’t Jews.
This division has weakened the Jewish nation. If we can’t define ourselves, then there is no way we could ever achieve Jewish unity. Without unity, we can’t be strong and the honest truth is, nobody wants to stay weak. As long as the societies surrounding us seem stronger than us, members of our faith will continue to abandon us. We have to make it cool to be Jewish and part of that is changing our attitudes on who is and who isn’t Jewish. If we all become a little friendlier to each other, if we all become a little more accepting of each other, then we will be a much stronger nation.
The Nazis, the Communist and every previous oppressor has always demanded that the Jews give up G-d. They burned Torahs and holy books. They destroyed synagogues and killed religious leaders. Unfortunately our oppressors see something that we, as a nation, has generally chosen to be blind to, essentially, the belief in G-d is what makes us strong.
Jews today are abandoning G-d wholesale. Torah, G-d, even Kosher have become dirty words in certain segments of the Jewish Community. In fact, there is such a distaste for anything Jewish amongst some Jews that you wonder why they even identify themselves as Jews to start with.
Where did this distaste come from? Quite simply, lack of Jewish education. I know that education starts at the home and many Jews who survived the Holocaust understandably had issues with G-d. Naturally those issues permeated the next generation who was raised essentially G-dless. So what happens when a G-dless generation of Jews raises the next generation of Jews? Exactly what’s happening now, rampant assimilation, intermarriage and general apathy towards anything Jewish.
Now we can’t only blame parents for the fall of Judaism on parents, we have a serious lack of Jewish religious leadership. We need more outreach, we need more people to go out to the masses and promote G-d.
Without G-d, Jews can’t be strong. So let’s work together, start teaching your children the importance of G-d and Torah, start reaching out to the community and let’s make Judaism a strong religion.
The truth is, as much as we yell never again and am yisroel chai, the only way to prevent a future Holocaust is not only Israel, is not assimilation, it’s simply being a strong nation ready to stand up and defend ourselves.