Modern High Holidays of Spring

Posted by RabbiCohen on Apr. 9, 2021  /   0

Dear Friends,

This week is something of a modern “high holidays,” especially in Israel.   Two commemorations and one celebration this week mark modern Jewish history.   Yom Hashoah, which fell on Wednesday evening and Thursday this week, is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Yom HaZikaron, which will take place next Tuesday evening and Wednesday, is Israeli Memorial Day. Yom HaZikaron flows directly into Yom HaAztmaut, Israeli Independence Day, on next Wednesday evening.  It is a joyous celebration felt much more keenly than, say, July 4. 

The trifecta commemoration is felt deeply both emotionally and spiritually in Israel.   Here, in the United States, Yom HaShoah also has intense meaning, especially for survivors and their descendants.  But, Yom HaZikaron and Yom Atzmaut tend to be a little more distant, especially Yom HaZikaron.   While US Memorial Day is mostly a day for picnics for many, Israeli Memorial Day is a very solemn day, as nearly every family in Israel has lost relatives or friends in Israel’s wars.  

Israeli Rabbi Donniel Hartman writes, “On Yom Hazikaron in Israel we do not remember the fallen in order to give thanks to those whose sacrifice made our lives possible today. That was the language of Memorial Day I heard when I lived in the United States. Here in Israel, where the experience of being a family is one of the defining features of Israeliness; we don’t primarily honor the dead; we mourn them.”

Together this week, we mourn and celebrate with Jews worldwide, thinking of the tragic, remarkable and nuanced history of the last century.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Debbie Cohen


Ways to Commemorate Yom HaShoah and Celebrate Yom HaAtmaut at Beth Chai
On Sunday morning, April 11, at 11 am, Beth Chai’s adult education session will be devoted to remembering the experience of the Holocaust.   The author Debbie Levy will talk about her mother’s last year in Nazi Germany in light of current immigration issues.  Everybody is encouraged to participate, including older children and teens.

On Saturday, April 24, at 6 pm, we will be having an Israeli themed Havdalah celebration. Tentatively, we will be meeting at Friendship Turtle Park in DC near American University.   The park has a gaga pit (Israeli dodgeball) and we will be having a gaga competition and other Israeli themed activities.  Everybody should bring their own dinner.   We are firming up our reservation with DC and will send out more details, like how to sign up soon.  Hope you can come!

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