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Yom HaShoah: why we remember

By Tuvia Brodie
4/28/2014, 7:04 PM

Today is April 28, 2014. Today is also the 29th day of the Jewish month, Nissan.

On this Jewish day each year, the state of Israel remembers the Holocaust—the Shoah. On this day, once a year, Israel falls silent. Jews say nothing.

We do not speak. We remember.

We remember the murder of millions of Jews in Europe during the Nazi reign (1933 – 1945). We remember how states and armies and soldiers worked day and night to destroy millions upon millions of men, women and children simply because they were Jews. We remember how non-Jewish citizens, governments and bureaucracies nodded, winked and worked to arrest, transport, torture, burn, starve and murder so many Jews so effectively.

Today, the Jewish state remembers. Only Israel remembers.

We remember how Nazis demonized Jews, then killed them. We remember how Nazi sympathizers joined the rush to kill. We remember how animals were more important than Jews. We remember how Jews were seen to be so unhuman they had to be exterminated.

Today, many nations say they understand the Holocaust. Many express their horror for what happened. But only one nation stops everything in the middle of a work-day to remember.

Only the Jewish state stands in silence.

At ten AM this morning in Israel, an air raid siren sounded. All over Israel, Jews heard a siren--a mournful, ear-splitting shriek that penetrated to your core. At ten AM today, that siren sounded for two minutes.

For those two minutes, busses stopped mid-intersection. Taxis stopped. Cars stopped. Trucks stopped.

No one pulled over to the side of the road.

They just stopped.

All over Israel, drivers and passengers stopped. Each one got out of his car. Each stood--silently. No one spoke. No one laughed.

Pedestrians across Israel stopped walking as soon as the sirens began. No one moved. No one spoke.

Israel stood silent.

Israel remembered.

For two minutes, Israel didn’t move. For two minutes, Israel listened. For two minutes, the only sound in Israel was a single-note wail that made your insides vibrate.

It was the wail of remembrance.  It was the cry of the Holocaust. It was the call to remember.

For two minutes, Israel remembered. For two minutes, Israel understood: Jew-hate exists. Jew-hate kills.

All over Israel, Jews harkened to that wail. All over Israel, we stood. We stood to remember what Nazis wanted for Jews. We stood to remember how silent the world was. We stood to remember how so many souls were slaughtered, burned, hanged, murdered and gassed.

For two minutes, we heard within that wailing shriek the sounds of innocent souls being slaughtered.

Within that eerie wail, all of Israel understood the impact and import of remembrance: never again.

Across Israel, Jews understood the call of Hamas. Across Israel, Jews understood the meaning of Mahmoud Abbas’s political logo—a map with Israel erased.

Across Israel, the sound of remembrance continued: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Across Israel, we stood in silence. The sound of the siren engulfed us--man, woman and child. No one was exempt: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

For two uninterrupted minutes, we remembered the death of so many Jews--and the lust to kill Jews.

For two minutes, we stood in silence to remember that there are those who still want to kill us. There are those who still use Nazi propaganda to demonize us. There are those who still dream to wipe us out.

Today, we remembered.

Yom HaShoah: the day we remember what we must never forget.

It is the day we hear the cry of the siren. It is the day we understand what it means to see millions of Jews killed.

It is the day we remember to say, never again.