My weekly musings that I share each week with Beth El – The Heights Synagogue…and now with you too!
This Shabbat is the first of many that is not a “special” Shabbat. The last two weeks were Passover, before that Shabbat Hagadol, and before that Hachodesh, Parah, etc.
Nevertheless, this Shabbat is significant to us today because it falls between two important dates on the Hebrew calendar: Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance) and Yom Hazikaron/Ha’atzma’ut (Israel Memorial Day and Independence Day—that are observed one day after the other). Their proximity on the calendar is coincidental; it is just the way it worked out in modern times. The 27th of Nissan was chosen by the Knesset in the early 1950s as the result of negotiations, putting it somewhere on the Jewish calendar between the day that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began and the day that the Nazis declared that the Ghetto had been completely liquidated. Yom Ha’atzma’ut, of course, was set on the anniversary of the establishment of the state, with Yom Hazikaron set the day before.
It always seemed to me that it was more than a coincidence that these two observances are so close to each other. Just as Yom Ha’atzma’ut follows Yom Hashoah, the establishment of the State of Israel followed the Holocaust. This understanding is somewhat simplistic, though.
Modern Zionism had been working on creating a Jewish State beginning in the 19th Century. Settlement and support of this venture began soon afterward and grew during the first part of the 20th Century. Many historians believe that Israel would have come into being eventually, but that the Holocaust (and the resultant world sympathy for the Jews displaced as result) sped up the process.
Each of these observances stands independently; one is not a result of the other even though they are somewhat connected. This Shabbat as we stand between these two dates, let us reflect one of the worst episodes in our history…as well as one of the most glorious. The path we follow on the calendar remind us of Passover’s message of redemption—even when it seems most unlikely.