Sunday, April 18, 2004

Major Geek points for anyone who enjoys this piece on linguistic features of Yeshivish as much as I did.

Tonight begins Yom ha-Shoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. I'm never sure what to do or think when Yom ha-Shoah comes around. Halakhically, the date has no significance. No fixed prayers or rituals set it apart from other days. Some people think that Yom ha-Shoah should not exist, that mourning for the Holocaust, like all other Jewish tragedies, should be relegated to Tisha B'Av. If we commemorated every tragedy that befell the Jewish people on its own day -- so the argument goes -- we would mourn all year. I used to agree, but now I think that approach is unrealistic. The Shoah looms too large in our communal memory not to have a day of its own.

But how do we mark it? With each generation, we inch further out of the shadow of the Holocaust. Now, we have to go out of our way to "remember" it. Berger says that he often isn't certain "what people mean when they talk about remembering the Holocaust." I am often confused, myself. Are we trying to learn? To preserve a memory at risk of being forgotten? To prevent other horrors from occurring? To bring ourselves to tears? To mourn? At this distance from the awful events, I'm not even sure what it means to mourn.

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