(I would like to acknowledge Rebbetzin Chris who's idea this was for the sermon and collaborated on the content)
These two weeks have had some important days of observance for us Jews. This past Tuesday, April 21, Nissan 27, is Yom HaShoah. In English, this is the Day of the Catastrophe and it acknowledges the Holocaust. In Israel, this is observed with a moment of silence in which the whole country shuts down.
Some of you may have seen on social media various posts about specific observances. One such incident showed some IDF soldiers standing in front of the home of a Holocaust survivor, standing at attention and saluting her. It was beautiful and touching. Others show various ceremonies honoring survivors in various venues.
Locally, you may have seen the program presented by the Holocaust Remembrance Foundation of the Valley Tuesday evening at 7:00 pm PT. This was hosted by Pastor Jack Flournoy, who did a wonderful job of organizing and presenting. Participants included Dr. Alan Winklestein and Jeff Stone who gave inspiring messages. You can also go on their Facebook page or YouTube (links available) to view the replay (about 30 minutes). This has been observed for the last 5 years or so and now there is a Holocaust Memorial in the town square of Murrieta.
This upcoming week we have two other notable Israel days. Yom HaZikaron /יום הזכרון is Israeli Memorial Day. Yom Hazikaron is normally observed on the 4th of Iyyar. Yom HaZikaron 2020 in Israel will begin in the evening of Monday, April 27 and ends in the evening of Tuesday, April 28.
Yom HaAtzma'ut / יום העצמאות is Israeli Independence Day. It commemorates the declaration of independence of Israel in 1948. Yom Ha’Atzma'ut is normally observed on the 5th of Iyyar, it may be moved earlier or postponed if observance of the holiday (or Yom HaZikaron, which always precedes it) would conflict with Shabbat. Yom Ha'atzma’ut 2020 will begin in the evening of Tuesday, April 28 and ends in the evening of Wednesday, April 29.
While these are Israeli holidays, Jews around the world also observe these holidays with some type of acknowledgment. Israel is our ancestral land and besides the evident political foundations, these holidays serve as a vital reminder and their flow is important. We Jews need to always remember the wanton, senseless persecution of our people and the subsequent re-establishment of our homeland. We must never forget and work to make sure catastrophes never happen again.
For us in the Diaspora, these serve as a glue to keep us together. We may disagree on different things—to which movement we want to associate and how to run our various congregations—but ultimately, we are still Jews and need to work together towards the common good of our people.
But even more than that, the Non-Jewish community in our area has been very sympathetic and supportive. They understand that while Jews are targeted more than most other cultural groups, antisemitism is everyone’s problem. When people are intolerant of other cultures, it serves to divide us as a race, the Human Race, that is.
We must all work together for peace. We must accept each other as we are and appreciate diversity. In that way, we will build a better world.