Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shabbat-O-Gram April 13

Shabbat Shalom and a Sweet Pesach
  • As we head into the final two days of Pasech and to Yom Hashoah next week, a reminder that our office will be closed on Friday for the 7th day, but our sanctuary will be very much open for business. 
  • Services at 9:30 on Friday and Sat. mornings and in the lobby at 7:30 on Friday night.  Yizkor prayers will be recited on Shabbat, the 8th day.
  • On Shabbat morning, we'll also read from Shir Hashirim, the Song of Songs (for some background, see my posting, Love, Passover, Spring and the Song of Songs) and just before Yizkor, I'll share reflections on the significant news coming out of Hartford late last night.  Connecticut is poised to become the 17th state to repeal the death penalty.  You might recall that over the past few months we've devoted time toward education and advocacy on this matter.  You can read coverage of the repeal here.  Taking nothing away from the horrible suffering of victims and their families, this is very heartening news.  Nationally, since 1973, 138 prisoners sentenced to death later have been exonerated. Now we can be assured that our state will not be complicit to any additional needless murders.
  • End of Passover?  About 8:15 Sat. night.  But who really needs to go back to regular food?  Really.  And this is one year where our friends in Israel will have to wait an extra day and hold off on that P.P.P. (Post Pesach Pizza) until after Shabbat.  Sorry, guys!  Meanwhile, to wile away those final hours of the festival, try out these amusing Pesach Haikus.
  • The post-Pesach period has become a very busy one on the Jewish calendar.  Next week is Yom Hashoah.  The community-wide commemoration should be especially meaningful this year, with the inclusion of a children's choir that Cantor Mordecai has been instrumental in creating.  It's next Thursday at 7 PM at Temple Sinai.  We'll also have several TBE teens among the thousands gathering at Auschwitz next week for the March of the Living.  I regret that I'll not be able to join them this year, but I'll help send off our Kulanu group this Sunday.  I wish them a safe and memorable journey. 
  • One of our eighth graders, Andrew Young, recently was awarded a History Day prize for a website he created describing the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.   It's very impressive - he interviewed several survivors.  See Andrew's site by cutting and pasting into your browser.

In the spirit of Yom Hashoah, I reprint this classic statement of post-Holocaust philosophy, "The Commanding Voice of Auschwitz," written by Emil Fackenheim:
What does the Voice of Auschwitz command?
Jews are forbidden to hand Hitler posthumous victories. They are commanded to survive as Jews, lest the Jewish people perish. They are commanded to remember the victims of Auschwitz lest their memory perish. They are forbidden to despair of man and his world, and to escape into either cynicism or otherworldliness, lest they cooperate in delivering the world over to the forces of Auschwitz. Finally, they are forbidden to despair of the God of Israel, lest Judaism perish. A secularist Jew cannot make himself believe by a mere act of will, nor can he be commanded to do so....And a religious Jew who has stayed with his God may be forced into new, possibly revolutionary relationships with Him. One possibility, however, is wholly unthinkable. A Jew may not respond to Hitler's attempt to destroy Judaism by himself cooperating in its destruction. In ancient times, the unthinkable Jewish sin was idolatry. Today, it is to respond to Hitler by doing his work.

          For a Jew hearing the commanding Voice of Auschwitz the duty to remember and to tell the tale is not negotiable. It is holy. The religious Jew still possesses this word. The secularist Jew is commanded to restore it. A secular holiness, as it were, has forced itself into his vocabulary...

          Jews after Auschwitz represent all humanity when they affirm their Jewishness and deny the Nazi denial... The commanding Voice of Auschwitz singles Jews out; Jewish survival is a commandment which brooks no compromise. It was this Voice which was heard by the Jews of Israel in May and June 1967 when they refused to lie down and be slaughtered...

          For after Auschwitz, Jewish life is more sacred than Jewish death, were it even for the sanctification of the divine Name. The left-wing secularist Israeli journalist Amos Kenan writes: "After the death camps, we are left only one supreme value: existence."

By the Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenheim, written in 1968:

No comments: