Yom HaShoah: Remembering the Holocaust
A vital and important day in modern Jewish history, is Yom HaShoah; the day of the whirlwind. What an apt and revealing title, for the sudden appearance of a wave of hate and violence, so destructive and harmful to the Jewish people.
The beautiful manner in which the Jewish people have been setting up memorials and markers, to the most profound experiences of their community, spans their history: The Bible documents that from the very first entry into the Promised Land, into safety from the furnace of hate and genocide in exile, God commanded the Israelites to commemorate the rescue and haven He had provided (Joshua 4:1-8).
How clear the connection between that definitive deliverance, and the establishment of the state of modern Israel for those who had survived the genocidal anti-Semitic violence, that swept through the whole of Europe in the last century.
Yom HaShoah is a day of tribute in Israel, established in 1950, to allow Jewish people to reflect upon the shocking event that took place within their community, that impacted them as whole but so very personally. At 10am on Yom HaShoah, a two-minute silence is held in Israel to reflect upon the grave horrors of the Holocaust.
It is deeply important that the Jewish people have a day separate to the International Holocaust Memorial Day, as vital as that is, to have as their own portion of time and space in which to face the pain of the impact of a hate attack so horrific, that it killed 6 million people.
However, it did not just kill them, as in a war that takes place because of impersonal things such as borders or resources. This was far more personal and sinister, because this was a cruel vendetta based upon the most personal, intrinsic and subjective characteristics of a people group; ethnicity, faith, culture and lifestyle.
How painful anti-Semitism is for Jewish people; to be hated, condemned and violently discriminated against for the very things that make them who they are! This is racism and it is insidious, because it seeks not just to destroy but to humiliate, shame and belittle human beings made in the image of God, for every part of their identity; spirit, soul and body.
Almost 2000 years before the holocaust, the Jewish Messiah faced this cruel and murderous hatred against His identity. Yeshua Ha ’Mashiach was humiliated for His faith, and faith shaped lifestyle and action. He was hated, attacked and murdered because He stood for God, for truth, humility and justice, evidencing His belief through powerful words and actions (Psalm 45:4).
And It appears this is the reason for hatred of the Jewish people; they are a people who do not just believe the revelation of God but they act upon it, shaping their culture and lifestyle upon the divine revelation, even when this is difficult, and even when it contradicts the manner of the world at large, which bases its systems of operation and practice upon mammon, upon getting as much as possible for oneself, as opposed to the ways of God.
The systematic order of God is based upon love; love for God who is holy, and love for our fellow human beings, whether companion or stranger. To be perceived as going against the grain of the world’s selfishness, is dangerous. It triggers a hateful response from those who are convicted of their guilt, by the contrast between their behavior, against those who resist conforming. As Yeshua so succinctly summarised this; “If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world” (John 15:19).
The Jewish people are different, because they are Chosen by the sovereign God to receive divine revelation and instruction, that they may be an example of God’s blessings upon holy and obedient attitudes and actions. Just as the obvious blessing of God upon Yeshua, caused jealousy amongst His enemies, so it was with the Jewish people and the Nazis who conspired against them for murder.
Over the last few weeks, we as believers in Yeshua have reflected upon His suffering in light of both the Passover and Easter, for as Isaiah wrote; “He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Now let us, in an act of love, also reflect upon the manner in which Yeshua’s people too suffered injustice and brutality. In this way, we can mirror God’s way of agape love, going against the grain of the world and its selfish ambition, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, for the scripture instructs us; “Look not every man on his own interests, but every man also on the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).