Holocaust and Hanukkah: Judaism's survival from attempted annihilation - opinion

The seminar and study day was held as the world marked 80 years to ‘Wannseekonferenz’ followed closely by the Jewish people’s celebration of Hanukkah.

 A YESHIVA in Bnei Brak: The Greeks, during the Hellenistic period, decreed to uproot the law of the Torah from the life of the Jewish people. (photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
A YESHIVA in Bnei Brak: The Greeks, during the Hellenistic period, decreed to uproot the law of the Torah from the life of the Jewish people.
(photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

Ahead of the events marking the 80th anniversary of the “Wannseekonferenz,” from which the infamous “Final Solution” emerged, leaders of the “Day of Liberation and Rescue” founded by Mr. Gabriel German Zachreib, convened for an in-depth seminar to find a final solution to the waves of evil and illuminate the darkness.

In the days when the Greeks decreed to uproot the law of the Torah from the life of the Jewish people, they forbade Torah study, Sabbath observance, circumcision and the sanctification of the month.

They did so subtly; they did not decree: “Do not study Torah!” On the contrary, a faculty of Talmud? you are welcome. But without the sanctity of Torah, “take God out of the equation. You will be students of the Talmud, not members of yeshivot.” Allow it to exist, but leave only shallow and superficial folklore – the rest will follow.

The Greeks also did not forbid circumcision outright: “Circumcision? Go ahead! But for health reasons, not an alliance with God, without the sanctification of the body.” They did not forbid the “months of Israel” but their sanctification: “An independent calendar, no problem! Just as there is a Gregorian or Greek calendar, there will be a Jewish calendar, but without any religious meaning to the times!”

 Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis and Rabbi of Moscow, and Mr Gabriel German Zacarieb, founder of the 'day of Salvation and Liberation', at the Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony at the center for mountain Jews in Moscow. (credit: Stamagi media) Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis and Rabbi of Moscow, and Mr Gabriel German Zacarieb, founder of the 'day of Salvation and Liberation', at the Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony at the center for mountain Jews in Moscow. (credit: Stamagi media)

The same was true of Sabbath observance. A social day off, the economy at a halt, but not a holy day, they demanded we give up the essence of the Torah. Everything can continue, but not because of the will of God. They agreed to leave the shell, the trappings, not the deeper meaning.

Even during the Holocaust, the Jews paid a bloody price for their connection. Hitler did not want to destroy just the bodies, he wanted to destroy what the Jews represented. He wanted to uproot the moral contribution of the Jews to a wicked and cruel world.

He believed in an Aryan race that is superior to all others, that the world belongs only to the healthy and the young. Everyone else had no place on earth. It was not only genocide; it was murder of a world that had room for every person, the old, the weak. It was murder of compassion, humanity and grace.

Herman Rauschning, a senior member of the Nazi movement, revealed in his book Conversations with the Fuhrer the ideology that gave birth to the crimes against humanity: “The war for world power is fought only between Germans and Jews. They have infected humanity with faith, morality, the feeling of conscience and the concept of sin. Conscience is a Jewish invention... I will be mankind’s greatest liberator from the lie of conscience and morality.”

Hitler wanted to kill the conscience, and create man without humanity. He understood that this could not be done as long as the people of Israel lived, as long as one Jew existed in the world. The Jews who received Torah from Heaven, arouse the conscience of the world and interfere with the process of “purification” of the elderly, sick, handicapped, weak, mentally retarded and “inferior races,” and therefore must be destroyed. And so Hitler clarified in his documented conversations, that “the Ten Commandments have lost their validity.”

Mr. Zachreib, who founded the “Day of Liberation and Rescue” – on the Hebrew date of the surrender of the Third Reich and the end of World War II, did not designate it only for Jews. This day is celebrated all over the world in Jewish communities and in the parliaments of many countries, with the participation of rabbis, heads of state and ministers.

The seminar and study day was held as the world marked 80 years to ‘Wannseekonferenz’ followed closely by the Jewish people’s celebration of Hanukkah.

At the conference of the Standing Committee of the European Rabbinical Conference, which also took place in Munich, ahead of Hanukkah and dealt with, among other things, a renewed outbreak of antisemitism and ways to deal with it, the voice of the people of Israel was heard loud and clear. These events lit small candles of Jewish morality in the moral menorah of the world, to expel much of the darkness.

The writer, a rabbi, is editor of Yated Ne’eman.