By: Xime Lindner, Rosh Chinuch Hanoar Hatzioni B’Uruguay
As the day of Yom HaShoah approaches, questions arise and flutter in my head, many of
them related to the subject of memory: Is it true that those who cannot remember their
past are condemned to repeat it? What is a memory? What purpose does it serve? There
are many answers to these questions.
The Shoah was undoubtedly an event that shocked both the Jewish people and other
minorities and humanity as a whole. It is hard to believe that these events have been
created by human minds – people killing people out of sheer cruelty. But the Shoah was
much more than that: there were many acts of revolution, heroism, mutual aid, dignity,
bravery, people who risked everything to save people they did not even know. Among
them are the “Righteous among the Nations”. There is a reason why this day is called
“Yom HaShoah VeHagvura”, meaning “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day”. As
educators, it is essential to show our chanichim that while the world is full of cruelty, it is
also full of kindness, empathy and people who firmly believe in human values.
Initially, the first date proposed to commemorate Yom HaShoah was the fifteenth day of
Nissan – the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising anniversary, a revolt in which Hanoar Hatzioni
played a central role. Since this day coincided with the first day of Pesach, the proposal
was changed, establishing the official Memorial Day on the twenty-seventh of Nissan.
The fact that Yom HaShoah is commemorated a week before Yom HaAtzmaut aims to be
a reminder that, despite everything, we have achieved it! Not only did we survive, but we
also fought to establish a state that today celebrates its first seventy years of life.
Returning to the questions raised at the beginning of this article, I think we remember to
keep the memory alive. Unfortunately, we are the last generation that have the honor of
hearing the testimonies of holocaust survivors personally. We remember because we fear
the oblivion or because we know we cannot allow it to be an option, or maybe for both
reasons. We remember to honor those people who maybe had no one to cry for them. We
remember to strengthen ourselves as a people and not allow a catastrophe of such
magnitude to reoccur. We remember what they could not remember because it was too
tough, because they could not bear it. They forgot to not remember; we remember and
educate to not forget.