Chanukah, the Holocaust and us

    December 1998         
Search the Jewish Magazine Site: Google
Chanukah, the Holocaust and us


Search our Archives:

Opinion & Society

Learning from Chanukah and the Holocaust

By Yehuda Stein

Everyone celebrates Chanukah. It doesn't matter what manner of religious persuasion you are, everyone lights Chanukah candles. We Jews all seem to agree that there was a miracle on Chanukah and that it surrounded the re-dedication of the Temple. We know that the heroic Maccabean fighters risked their lives to re-instate the holy service in the Temple in its purity and sanctity. The driving force behind the Maccabean fighters was to rectify an intolerable situation, the usage of the Temple as a place of idol worship.

Amongst the many tragedies and calamities that the Jewish people have suffered, we dedicate a portion of our life to the remembrance of the Temple. At each wedding, the groom steps on a glass, breaking it as a remembrance of the destruction of the Temple.

During the year, there are no less than four fast days to recall the calamities associated with our exile and the destruction of the Temple. In the religious service that surrounds these fast days, culminating with Tisha B'Av, we recall the destruction of the Temple. The slaughter of the many Jewish inhabitants is also mentioned in the liturgy, but only as a secondary aspect of mourning. The chief focus is on the Temple, its destruction and our subsequent exile.

We, on the other hand, are descendants of the generation of the holocaust, the worst tragedy of modern Jewry. We are aware that the suffering of our people was enormous and without parallel in modern historical annals. Yet, we are still plagued with the burning question of "why?".

We can examine the holocaust from two aspects. One is the aspect of the Jewish suffering and the second is the aspect of the Jewish national experience. From the side of Jewish suffering, perhaps nothing we know of can compare to the suffering inflicted on an innocent people. Each of the six million that perished, suffered a terrible and unfathomable torture, pain and famine that we, the succeeding generation, can never fathom. Each individual person's suffering added together, made up six million Jews who perished in a manner that only G-d knows why.

From the side of the Jewish nation, the mourning and loss of these six million however does not compare to the loss of the Temple. The Temple was for us a revelation of G-d in the world. A Jew had only to go up to Jerusalem to the Temple and he was spiritually recharged. The differences that existed during the time of the Temple were only of how best to fulfill the will of G-d. There were no doubts as to the existence of G-d.

We, on the other hand, live during another holocaust. This holocaust is the silent holocaust. It is the one which we are obligated to prevent with all of our strength. It is the destruction of the millions of Jewish children who do not receive any form of Jewish education. It is an accepted fact that the Jewish child in an environment of gentiles will eventually succumb to inter-marriage, the silent holocaust.

Jewish education is unfortunately very costly. It requires self-sacrifice from the parents in terms of money and time. It requires the involvement of the Jewish communities. Unfortunately the Jewish Federations that have been established in the majority of cities around the world do not feel that every Jewish child should be entitled to a Jewish education (of his or his parents choice). Instead, they build large headquarters, fund projects that promote themselves and all because we remain silent on this critical issue.

Chanukah is the time of the re-dedication of the Temple, a re-dedication of the Jewish spirit, a re-investment of Jewish education. Let us begin to speak out for Jewish awareness and Jewish education. Let us not let the silent holocaust cause more losses to the Jewish nation. It is time that we let our voice be heard, demanding that those institutions that have the power and influence, use their moneys to promote Jewish education through out the world.

This is the real triumph of Chanukah, the return to Jewish values and Jewish education. We must utilize this time to re-establish Jewish values in our families and children. This will end the silent holocaust.

Please let us know if you see something unsavory on the Google Ads and we will have them removed. Email us with the offensive URL (