Yom Ha Shoah – May 2, 2019

Children and adults join together in the sacred task of memory and hope as we remember together the destruction of European Jewry. Survivors of the Shoah, together with our students, witness together the possibilities of courage, goodness and hope. Check the calendar for the date of this very special service.

A Message from the Kol Ami Men’s Council

For the past decade, the Congregation Kol Ami Men’s Council has distributed Holocaust Memorial “Yellow Candles” to be lit by our congregants on Erev Yom HaShoah, which this year is the evening of April 11. This year, as we celebrate the revival of spring, let us both pause to recall the 6,000,000 losses that we suffered, and let us also rededicate ourselves to the constant and never-ending struggle against evil and hatred.  It is a small thing – to light a candle of remembrance – but it can be an important and moving moment in the annual cycle of Jewish life in our families and our community.

We invite you to light the memorial candle in your home at sunset on April 11, Erev Yom Hashoah, both in honor of the victims of the Holocaust and as evidence of your personal commitment to never allow it to happen again. Read aloud the meditations we have provided on the Kol Ami website with this letter. For those of you with children or grandchildren, use this as an opportunity to discuss the Holocaust and its meaning. The act of kindling the flame and reading the meditations, or sharing your own thoughts and prayers, can be a moving reminder of the loss our people suffered not long ago, and how it affects us to this day.  Use it also as a reminder of the need to be vigilant to prevent its recurrence anywhere in the world.  

Meditations

Light the Yom HaShoah Yellow Candle at sunset on April 11, 2018, and recite the following.

As we light this Yellow Candle, we vow never to forget the lives of the Jewish men, women, and children who are symbolized by this flame. May we be inspired to learn more about our six million brothers and sisters as individuals and as communities and to recall their memory throughout the year.  May we recall not only the terror of their deaths, but also the splendor of their lives.  

May we also recall the others who perished, and the righteous of all faiths who risked their lives and the lives of their families in order to save innocent lives during the Shoah, the Holocaust.

May the memory of all their lives inspire us to hallow our own lives and to live meaningful Jewish lives, and move us to acts of courage and compassion.

Download Additional Meditations

Talking to Your Children and Grandchildren about the Holocaust

The Yom HaShoah Yellow Candle is symbolic of a deep Jewish need to remember and teach. As parents and grandparents, our first instincts are usually to protect our children from harm, both physical and psychological, and to shelter our young from contact with ugliness and death, chaos and uncertainty. But if we are to help mold competent, caring Jewish citizens of the world, we must help our children confront and cope with the parts of life that cause us pain, doubt and discomfort.

As the generation of Holocaust survivors diminishes in living numbers, it becomes increasingly incumbent upon all committed Jews to perpetuate the memory and lessons of the Shoah by imparting to our children, in age-appropriate ways, the terrible tragedy and unfathomable evil which consumed 6,000,000 Jews and countless others. What follows are suggestions for engaging children and youth in an understanding of the importance of lighting, honoring, and feeling the flame of this Ner Zikaron (memorial candle.)

Art Expresses Our Deepest Emotions: Various artistic representations can be used to present ideas to children (ages 5-12) with the harsh issues of the Shoah without terrifying or traumatizing. Two wonderful sources are: The Promise of a New Spring, by Gerta Weissman Klein, a children’s book comparing the Shoah to a consuming forest fire resulting in an ultimate rebirth and renewal of the ravaged forest, and a videotape, The Journey of Butterfly, beautifully documenting the art, poetry and lives of countless children who struggled to survive in Theresienstadt, a ghetto concentration camp north of Prague.

The Butterfly

The last, the very last

So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.

Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing against a white stone . . .

Such, such a yellow

Is carried lightly ’way up high.

It went away I’m sure because it wished to kiss the world goodbye.

For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,

Penned up inside this ghetto

But I have found my people here.

The dandelions call to me

And the white chestnut candles in the court.

Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.

Butterflies don’t live in here,

In the ghetto.

Pavel Friedman (b. 1921; perished Auschwitz, 1944)