Yom Hashoah: A Day to Affirm Universal Human Rights

I can think of no more powerful meditation for Yom Hashoah 5770 than this Huffington Post piece written by Steven Gerber and Rabbi Michael Schwartz, both of Rabbis for Human Rights.

An excerpt:

It is interesting to note how two very different sets of “responses” to the Shoah are heard frequently amongst Jews here in Israel and around the world. These two different responses reflect a shared sense of urgent necessity in responding here today because of what happened there then. At the same time they demonstrate almost opposite worldviews and understandings of Israel’s purpose, and lead toward totally inverse political perspectives and often contradictory activist involvements.

One response is that, essentially, Israel must do anything it wants or needs to do in order to defend itself from hateful enemies set on perpetrating a second holocaust by destroying both the Jewish State and the Jewish People along with it.

The other response is that precisely because of our experience as Jews in the Holocaust and through our history littered with injustice and tragedy, we ourselves must make sure that Israel of all places is a nation that stringently safeguards human rights even in the most difficult of circumstances and establishes, in the words of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, a nation that “foster[s] the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; [a nation] based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.”

Indeed, both the physical and spiritual security of the Jewish People and the State of Israel is best guaranteed by the strength of Israel’s democracy and the rule of just law, its commitment to human rights, and – ultimately – to the achievement of peace.

On this day in which we recall the Jewish people’s loss of human rights, let us ensure that the Jewish state embodies these rights on behalf of all its citizens.

On this day in which we remember the tragedy of our people, may we redouble our efforts on behalf of all people who dwell on earth…

4 thoughts on “Yom Hashoah: A Day to Affirm Universal Human Rights

  1. Liz

    Thank you, Brant, for your commitment to providing us with a complete narrative instead of perpetuating the one that most of us American Jews grew up with. What a beautiful way to commemorate Yom Hashoah by working towards justice and human rights for everyone, everywhere.

  2. Steve

    How about we use the day to remember our 6 million martyrs without any other agenda? The day is about them. Maybe pick a martyr or 2 to specifically remember and say Kaddish for. Other days could be used to think as described in this blog. Every martyr of the Shoah deserves this uninterupted respect on Yom HaShoah.


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