It was important for this distinction between the various conditions in which Jews found themselves to be made in a young Israeli state, loudly and clearly. And this caucus insisted that the name of the day be Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day—יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה—so that not only those who perished without hope of resisting, but those who fought back and the righteous gentiles who helped Jews, sometimes at the cost of their own lives, would also be included.
The piece also explains many fascinating aspects of Jewish life, such as why so many Israelis disparage or detest the ultra-orthodox haredim. Even those who are familiar with these facts will be moved by Garfinkle’s account of the genius of the Jewish tradition:
Other civilizations throughout history have built great buildings—pyramids and palaces and castles and cathedrals and great walls, and some have even carved huge idols in mountainsides. Yet all of those civilizations have either perished, been layered over to oblivion, or are likely one day to be layered over. Jews instead built palaces of memory in the hearts and minds of their children using words and melodies, not bricks and stone. Jews have translated their historical experiences into ramparts of the spirit.
His closing reflections on the importance of integrating sorrow into a tradition of joy and hope remind us of the words of Jeremiah, that great prophet whom all religions of the book admire. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”Read the whole thing.