Thursday, 26 January 2017

Write, Jews, Write it Down - Lessons of the Holocaust

This Shabbat we are marking Holocaust Memorial Day with a special event. I have invited two of our members to share the story of their work. Jenny and Dina are translators working for Yad Vashem. They work with the Oneg Shabbas archive, documents that survived the Holocaust, hidden, in the Warsaw Ghetto, by those who did not. 

“Write, Jews, write it down,” were the dying words of the great Jewish historian, Shimon Dubnow, as he was murdered by the Nazis in Riga 1941. He wanted to leave something so we can hear voices lost. Indeed there is plenty of writing, and the like, left for us. All that lacks is people will to read, to come and to hear - as hard as it may be. I do urge all members, friends too, to join us for this Shabbat. 

Dina and Jenny will be speaking during the service and also sharing insights into some specific texts with which they have been working during a sit-down-kiddush. (Youth activities will be provided outside of the Kiddush hall).

In conjunction with Holocaust Memorial Day, I want, particularly, to note the work of our member Hannah Lewis, whose story can be read here, for her heroic educational work. I’m also grateful to Freda who drew my attention to a showing of the new documentary Night Will Fall about the first footage shot by British soldiers in the liberated camps. Night Will Fall is being shown today at 9pm on More 4 (channel 14 on Freeview, 138 Sky and 147 Virgin), I urge you to record it for later viewing. More information here.

We live in strange times. It turns out that we cannot take for granted that ‘we’ - Jews, Brits, Europeans, members of the human race - know the story and even the message of the Holocaust. We must commit ourselves to doing more. The original footage which makes up the heart of Night Will Fall film was to be part of a, sadly, unfinished work directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Bernstein and Richard Crossman. That work was to end with these words, ‘unless the world learns the lessons these pictures teach, night will fall. But by God’s grace we who live will learn.’

Shabbat shalom,

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