April 13, 2018: Post-Holocaust Remembrance Day thoughts

Millions of people other than Jews have been killed in wars.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Post-Holocaust Remembrance Day thoughts
Around Holocaust Remembrance Day, the question is often posed as to whether to continue high school trips to the Nazi death camps in Poland. This year, I was surprised to see one of our high school students arguing against it.
I am a Holocaust survivor. I feel very strongly that we should encourage not only Israeli students, but every human being, regardless of religion or nationality, to visit Auschwitz or any other concentration camp in Europe. Soon, there will be no survivors left to tell their stories, and it is important for people to see how low humanity sank during World War II so that such atrocities will not be repeated.
Millions of people other than Jews have been killed in wars.
Bombs are dropped even now in an anonymous manner. But never has there been such an organized, calculated, conscious and bestial extermination of a whole segment of humanity out of hatred. We need the whole world – including us, the major victims – to see how hatred and incitement caused highly civilized and cultured people to consciously exterminate other human beings.
The Holocaust should never be repeated.
I live at an intersection where traffic passes to and from a nearby Arab neighborhood.
During the sounding of the siren on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I was at home. I decided to stand in silence next to a window in order to feel that I was a part of the nation of Israel.
When the sirens were sounded, it happened that there weren’t any Egged buses approaching the intersection – their drivers would have stopped and halted any traffic behind them. I observed that all of the traffic continued to flow as normal, including the buses from the private Arab company that serves east Jerusalem seven days a week.
Until such time that all of Israel’s residents and citizens show minimal respect in public during the sounding of the siren on Holocaust Remembrance Day, we must face the realization that there is no “partner for peace” among our Arab neighbors, and that Jews who disrespect the custom of standing cause “needless hatred” among Jews.
I am in Israel for a few weeks, and on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, I watched the opening ceremony at Yad Vashem. While I was touched and thoroughly impressed by the beautiful and dignified way that our 6,000,000 holy souls were sanctified and remembered, two things were lacking.
As music director of the Hebrew Academy of Montreal, I am always conscious about appropriate music. The songs presented were beautiful, but with all due respect, there was a lack of classic Yom Hashoah songs that we all know and identify with. At least one should have been presented.
The other thing that bothered me was that the singers did not appropriately cover their heads with a kippa during their presentations.
As a proud Modern Orthodox Jew, I respect Orthodox and non-Orthodox observance alike. However, in a program like this – which commemorates the destruction of European Jewry just because they were Jews and is viewed all over the world – I feel that to abandon a central symbol of our proud identity, wearing a kippa, is inappropriate.
The writer is a cantor.
Regarding the review “Bringing ‘The Invisibles’ into view” (Arts & Entertainment, April 11), I would like to point out that I and Jack S. Cohen (as editor) independently published a book titled Invisible Jews: Surviving the Holocaust in Poland (2017). It tells the story of the survival of myself and my family of 10 as we successfully hid from the Germans and Poles from 1941 to 1944 in eastern Poland.
Although the movie refers to Jews hiding in Berlin, the term “invisible Jews” can be applied to us all. However, the circumstances of the Jews hiding in Poland were far more harrowing.