Every year Yom HaShoah comes and one is confronted once again with the enormity and horror of the Holocaust, the real experience of millions of people murdered at the hands of the Nazis (six million Jews and millions of gays, gypsies, differently-abled people, dissidents and others), and we are asked to imagine the reality of lives affected. What helps most in this endeavor of imagination and memory are personal accounts: through names and personal stories the abstract becomes concrete, and we begin to glimpse what life was really like for those affected by the Shoah.

The Shoah was a unique catastrophe aimed at the destruction of the Jewish people; it also includes many universal stories of human perseverance triumphing in the face of horrific adversity. Tonight begins Yom HaShoah, the Jewish Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust on our calendar. As you pause to remember the Holocaust tonight and/or light a special memorial candle for all those whose Yahrzeits would otherwise go unmarked each year, may we each reflect on the power of a single human soul to light up the world with love and joy, with beauty, justice and peace. May our rituals of memory inspire us to live life fully and create a world where the beauty of the enduring human spirit trumps hate and violence.Join us this Friday night for a Yom HaShoah-themed Shabbat service and dinner sponsored by the Schumer-Povolney Family in honor of Maia’s Bat Mitzvah.

To a meaningful remembrance and Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Bair