27 Nisan 5778
Dear AJA Community,
Today is not a typical
Today is not a typical at AJA. Today the Atrium is lined with yahrtzeit candles and stones and stories of children who perished.
Today is Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day. A day where we commemorate the Six Million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
This week we read in Parasha Shmini that Aharon’s eldest sons offered Gd a “strange fire, something he did not command of him”. A fire then descended from Gd, and it killed his sons. וידום אהרן. Vayidom Aharon - Aharon was silent. At that moment, Aharon understood that as difficult as it was to lose his sons, Gd is infinite. Sometimes in our world things happen that we can’t understand. There is no way we can speak. Sometimes we just have to take things in stride and be silent because we don’t understand.
There are also times in our world when we do not have the right - and I argue - the responsibility NOT to be silent. Yom HaShoah is one of those times. It doesn’t mean that this day is any less sad, but it does require all of us to speak out. To speak out against hatred. To speak out against Intolerance. To speak out against ignorance.
Yom HaShoah reminds us that as Jews we understand what it feels like to be marginalized and to be persecuted. That is why each and every one of us has the responsibility to speak out against injustice and hatred in our world.
This is our purpose. This why we exist. This is why our children are in this school. As students, the children will learn and grow here, get an exceptional education, then graduate and head to outstanding colleges. In addition to their academic education, I want to make sure that they understand what it means to empathize. To not be a bystander. To know that as Jews empathy is built into our DNA and our history requires us to speak out.
Our students are our future. For all the pain and challenge we have in our world, they are our bright lights. At today’s Yom HaShoah programs, it made me emotional, yet comforted to see that they understand right from wrong. It is our responsibility as educators and parents to make sure that we continue to nurture and teach our children so they will be our emissaries in the world.
Yom HaShoah is not just about one period in time, or about one day, or about one belief - it’s about who we are as Jews. It reminds us of our purpose in this world.
Today is not a typical at AJA. Today, we pay respect to the Six Million Jews who perished in the Shoah. And, we promise we will Never Forget. לא נשכח
May their memories continue to be a blessing and an inspiration.
Rabbi Ari Leubitz