Yom HaShoah
Book recommended by Reb Sami:
Liturgies on the Holocaust, Ed. By Marsha Litell, Trinity Press, 1996
Deb: Integrate and move forward: Not defined as a Jew by the Holocaust but a part of being Jewish.
Ideas for Commemorative Events
Light candles
El Male Rachamim
Personal stories
Writings and connecting today with what meaning it can bring us today and move it forward.
Bring survivors into the service
Intersperse with silence and a niggun.
Sitting on floor
By candlelight
Examples of what is going on in the world now-Darfur.

For a siddur: Mishkan Tefilah has a meaningful service in their liturgy.
Historical Background: Reb Sami
Find most of this in wikipedia
History of the response to the Shoah is still being written. In the years immediately after the Shoah, there was very little discussion around the world. So the day we call Yom ha Zicharon l’Shoah
Innaguated in 1951 in Israel
Big machlohet between the Keneset and Orthodox chief rabbinate. The Keneset ignored the rabbanut and set aside 21 of Nissan as Yom haShoah.
Original proposal was that Yom HaShoah be on April 19, 1943- 14 Nissan, which was the uprising of Warsaw Ghetto. But it was the day before Pesach. So it was changed to 8 days before Yom HaAtzmaout. Some move to associate Tisha B’av and Yom HaShoah.
Yom HaShoah tends to be commemorated by region- clusters of synagogues. Hold a shared observance. There is something very powerful about being in community and numbers. There is something powerful and poetic about inviting entire Jewish community to acknowledge this collective experience. Cross cultural/cross observance experience.
Cindy- still feels that it is important for shuls to have their own private, prayerful way.
Reb: Sami: Disturbing that Holocaust becomes the defining event in Jewish studies. Many synagogues are consciously aware that if each shul were to hold their own commemoration, only 20-30 people might only show up. Lonely for the holocaust survivor who may show up. But feels good in regional events where large numbers show up.
Now we are in last generation of survivors of Shoah it would be abandoning then if we did not have a meaningful and large gathering of Jewish people. Much merit to these communal gatherings.
Reflection of Reb Sami’s from talking with various groups around Europe about Yom HaShoah. Drawing from and paraphrasing his teacher, Rabbi Louis Jacobs who said there is a lot of Jewish suffering in history and if you allow the memory of suffering and to hover in a general way, it will fill all the space. The genius of Tisha B’Av is that it made a definable day- finite and bounded day- for these commemorations of all our sufferings and liberated the rest of the calendar from it.

Reb Sami on when to hold the observance. Sometimes it is the nearest Sunday, Saturday or on the day/eve of YHS. Yom HaShoah goes either way. Caution: Shouldn’t go on forever. If from survivors – suspend critical faculties. When these things go on and on, people may be unlikely to return. They shouldn’t be more than 1-1.5 hours. Less is more.
There is an implicit contract when someone enters into a symbolic ritual gathering, that people expect it to be sustainable and durable and potentially meaningful in one way of another. If not, you one “ feel taken advantage of” (Sami’s words) and not return. Outside the limit of most American’s attention span.
Challenge to craft gathering that is bounded in time but unbounded in kavanah. Dump keynote speech.
Hearing directly from survivors- 3 or 4 survivors to speak 3 or 4 minutes- or children of survivors-what it was like growing up.
Candelighting ceremonies.
Cindy: Use potatoes as holders as a reminder of when people had nothing in which to light candles. Flowers. And have children of survivors do brachas.
Reb Sami: Candles are a way of making the inconceiveable conceivable. Many ways to do this. Survivor’s light candles or survivors and grandchildren/children. Become emmisaries. Use Proverbs- “The candle of God is a human soul.”
Deb: Candles refracted by mirrors makes clear the infinite nature of it.
Rachel: Yarzeit candles. Invite people to light candles at will. Taps into that symbolic language.
Reb Sami: Starkness of 6 candles for 6 million.

Reb Sami: Most common elements of Yom Hashoah Liturgy
Recitation of Kaddish
Recitation of El Malei Rachamim- see Koran siddur.
Yiddish text- partisan’s song
Hebrew Texts: Ani Maamim, Eli Eli (halicha l’Casearia)

Origin of Tisha B’Av: Destruction of two temples and 132BCE when Bar Kochba rebellion was surpressed. There is not great historic clarity who first dreamed up Tisha B’Av and how did observances fall into place. Already in place by time of Mishna. Tisha B’Av a fast but different from others.
Starts at Erev and it is a full fast. Can do work but shouldn’t. Sami asks: How is it different from Yom Kippur? Prohibition against study of Torah, don’t wear tallit in morning. You are to behave as a mourner- not to greet people. Meal before- only cook one thing, not two. Not at all festive. YK can fall on Shabbat, Tisha B’Av will never fall on Shabbat. Inappropriate for Shabbat postponed to 10th of Av. All of stringencies of YK apply.
Check out Pharoah’s Daughter. Compelling setting of first 2 settings of Eicha.
Part of evening
Having black clothes on everything
Sit on floor
This really sets environment- a piece of poignancy for everyone.
Cindy: Idea messiah being born on Tisha B’Av- like phoenix from ashes.
As Jews we lack variations of colors in our symbolic calendaring. Perhaps we could do more with it than what we do. Reb Sami would like to hear reflections of what we might learn from other faith communities.