Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer
Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer Courtesy
Really, as one thinks about it, could it be any other way? If you take kids from age 7 or 10 or 12, and you don’t give them Chumash (Torah studies) or meaningful real Shabbat (Sabbath) or a kosher home or meaningful substantive history of modern Israel . . . and the only Jewish identity you give them is a narrative about terrible people who slaughtered six million of their forebears . . . and those forebears usually did not fight back and no one helped . . . and the same thing has gone on for 2,000 years of getting murdered by miserable people while no one comes to help . . .

Well, how in the world will that inspire kids to say “When I grow up, I want to marry a Jewish spouse, even if I meet someone else who seems more compatible, because I want to hand this legacy of victimization and martyrdom to my future generations.”?

The House of Fates Holocaust museum, housed in a former railway station that dep
The House of Fates Holocaust museum, housed in a former railway station that dep Ferenc Isza/AFP/Getty Images

So a fortune is spent by American Jewish secular organizations on museums, school curricula, and Holocaust centers, while the assimilated Jewish leaders of the ADLs and Federations avoid confronting that they are not themselves suited for their roles and are failing their future generations. Before they know what hit them, they are coming to rabbis like me, begging rabbis to convert the non-Jews marrying their kids. We meet with those non-Jewish prospective spouses and find they are sweet and delightful enough but, really, don’t want to convert, are happy as they are. “Rabbi,” they tell us, “I don’t believe in the Torah. I don’t believe in Jesus either. I don’t believe in G-d. I just believe in love.”

Ribbon-cutting ceremony at the rededication of the Buenos Aires Holocaust Museum
Ribbon-cutting ceremony at the rededication of the Buenos Aires Holocaust Museum Leonardo Kremenchuzky/Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aires

The problem is much less ubiquitous in Israel, but it does exist. Yad Vashem is extremely important, as is the less well known but more stark Chamber of the Holocaust, but these must stand as monuments and testimony to historical fact, not as surrogates for Jewish education. Many secular Israelis need the Shoah lesson to remember what will happen if Arab Muslims who hate Israel ever realize their dreams to actualize their chant “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free.” A few Righteous Gentiles will offer succor, but the world will not intervene to preserve a Jewish country — despite promises to the contrary. They will have their own problems.

It is vital that Jews in Israel remember that Franklin Roosevelt sealed off America’s borders, preventing Jewish refugees from Hitler from entering, such that America’s legal annual immigration quota never was filled even once during the Holocaust years. It is vital to recall that Britain, even under a more sympathetic Winston Churchill, nevertheless imposed Neville Chamberlain’s brutal White Paper of 1939 through 1948. The Jews aboard the Patria, Struma, and real Exodus were the more tragic of the countless victims who could not penetrate Haifa’s harbor. For the Irgun, that cemented The Revolt. As recounted in The Deed, Yitzchak Shamir and the Lechi had good reason to assassinate Lord Moyne. Ken yovdu kol oy’vekha, Hashem. (Thus may all your enemies be extirpated, O G-d.) Judges 5:31.

Despite 50 years’ proof that Holocaust education accomplishes almost nothing but bearing witness, tens of millions of dollars keep flowing in America to Holocaust programs — museums, monuments, college courses and university Holocaust centers, Hollywood movies — because some kind of “common wisdom” has taken hold among the assimilated American Jews who lead “Jewish” organizations like HIAS, ADL, and most cities’ Jewish Federations that the Holocaust is the way to inspire Jewish kids to remain and marry Jewish. That way the assimilated parents can avoid teaching Torah and Shabbat, Kashrut and Israel’s full rights.

They presume instead that they can level so much guilt that their kids’ consciences will be overwhelmed so that they will dare not be the generation to end their families’ respective Jewish generational chains extending back three thousand years to the times of Avraham and Moshe (Moses). The guilt trips assume the teens and college youth will perceive that Hitler ultimately wins if they marry non-Jewish. Thus, instead of Hitler gassing, incinerating, and eradicating Jews — most unpleasant — they will accomplish the same Gentilization for him, albeit with gentility, as all their offspring emerge not Jewish. End of line. End of story.

By 2022, with hard Pew survey data among non-Orthodox Jews now confirming nearly 80 percent intermarriage, clearly Holocaust education has not mattered, perhaps because today’s younger generations of all creeds and ethnicities in the Age of Obama — Jews, non-Jews, Blacks, Whites, Browns, Blues, Jews, Christians, Agnostics, Atheists — do not feel guilty about anything. They feel entitled.

A Mezvinsky sees Schindler’s List but still marries a Chelsea Clinton, basking in pride even though that line now will be Judaically extinct.

The other arguments advanced by Holocaust education funders is that, at least, such education “protects” Jews and Israel by teaching whatever it teaches. And yet we find that premise faulty, too:

1. Although she is a fool in the way she processes facts, Caryn Johnson (“Whoopi Goldberg”) is intelligent and absorbs a wide variety of information. Her job of many years at “The View” requires her to be well read and able to discuss all kinds of issues. Yet she still knows absolutely nothing about the Holocaust after all these years. If Hitler was anything, he was a racist. She somehow missed that, reminiscent of the kid in sixth grade history class who is asked: “What year did Columbus set sail?” And the kid answers: “I was absent that day.” So Holocaust education does not imprint.

2. For all the Shoah education that was thrust onto AOC in school, she likewise uses the Shoah only to pick and choose what suits her. She sees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shelters where they provide food, water, clothes, and shelter to people who do not even belong in America because they have entered illegally — and her “take-away” is that she has just seen Dachau and Auschwitz, and ICE are Nazis. This is precisely what Holocaust education has become. Woke professors and their minions specialize in “deconstructing” all history, promoting false narratives. The entire Critical Race Theory of American history — the phoney 1619 Project — is built on the same premise: take a few facts and lie about them, deconstruct the true history, and reconstruct a false narrative.

3. People opposed to mask- and vax-mandates wear Yellow Stars. Even for those who believe that KN95 and N95 masks are vital, and who believe unequivocally that the Moderna, Pfizer, and other vaccines and boosters have saved countless lives, there is a growing sense that government mandates to wear those blue, flimsy, layered Chinese and similar cloth masks are pointless and anyway infringe on personal freedom. Nothing is more infuriating than media photos showing the government mandaters themselves promenading without masks: AOC in Florida, Governor Gavin Newsom and Rep. Nancy Pelosi in California, Gov. Whitmer in Michigan, Mayor de Blasio in New York City, Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London.

Anyone who dons a Yellow Star in protest of such mandates manifests extreme misunderstanding of the Nazi-era Yellow Star. In brief, if a Jew did not wear a Yellow Star on the street under Nazi occupation, he could be shot to death on site. He certainly could be carted off to a death camp, a girl or woman raped. The Yellow Star informed all non-Jewish passers-by that, if they beat the guy or woman to death right then and there on the street, consequences would be minimal. An injection of a COVID vaccine is different from an injection by Dr. Mengele of a known death toxin for the purpose of seeing how many minutes the toxin needs to cause death or to gauge how intense its side effects are, using Jews as guinea pigs..

At best, Holocaust education accomplishes little or nothing for perpetuating Judaism or Jews and, at worst, offers unhelpful talking points to ignoramuses for their unrelated agendas. In its most ubiquitous form, Holocaust education results in “Godwin’s Law,” which posits that every argument on social media sooner or later finds one adversary calling the other a Nazi.

I personally know and pastor to Holocaust Survivors and their offspring. For most, the Shoah singularly defined the rest of their lives. Of course it did — and no decent person would tell them: “Get over it.” Their understandable life-calling is to bear witness. Moreover, Holocaust Denial eventually emerged as its own new form of anti-Semitism as memories faded, evidence vanished, and Survivors died. So it became even more compelling for Survivors to relate their personal experiences and show the branded numbers on their wrists. The truth must be known.

Nonetheless, it is time to re-think the “common wisdom” that tens of millions of dollars must be budgeted on general Holocaust education. A time comes when enough data exist for people to see what works and what not. Data and results on the street demonstrate unequivocally that fifty-plus years of Holocaust education has not brought young Jews closer to Judaism. Rather, it has driven them away. It does not inspire observance of Shabbat or kosher dietary practice. It just makes kids feel bad and determined not to grow up to be sheep and martyrs. Young Jews don’t want that in their lives, and they think they can run away from it.

Finally, even much worse, for pathological haters among non-Jews, Holocaust education ultimately inspires a deadly inference: If a hater despises several groups and wants to murder people in at least one of them — Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Asians — Shoah education proposes that Jews are easiest to murder without payback. Blacks, Mexicans, Asians might have illegal hand guns and shoot back. But Holocaust education propagates that Jews apparently are pretty easy and safe to kill. They don’t seem to carry guns but briefcases. They seem to go like sheep. So the imagery actually is counter-productive. You watch movies like The Godfather or Goodfellas, and that teaches you never to start up with Italians. But not enough focus is directed to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising or the armed revolts in places like Treblinka that show Jews fighting back.

That is partly why some people cannot process the idea of Israel fighting back when attacked. Holocaust education has so ingrained that Jews do not fight back that, when the one Jewish polity in the world actually does, the woke cannot handle it. Well, tough noogies.

If we do not re-allocate our Holocaust education funding to educating Jews instead about their culture and religion, we will end up with history museums recounting what Jews once were.

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer is Contributing Editor at The American Spectator, adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and served six years on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings have appeared in The Weekly Standard, National Review, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, Israel Hayom, and The Jewish Press. Other writings are collected at www.rabbidov.com .

Adapted by the writer for Arutz Sheva from a version of this article that first appeared here in The American Spectator.