Resistance is not futile

By Glen Pickus, Temple Beth Or | Apr 03, 2013

When faced with annihilation there are few options.

Such was the case in 1933 for Europe’s Jews when the Nazis seized power in Germany and began to implement their “final solution” – a plan to rid Europe of all Jews.

The first step of the “final solution” was to concentrate the Jewish population into ghettos and to send others to concentration camps.

This time of Nazi persecution is called the Shoah, which in Hebrew means “catastrophe” or “utter destruction.” The Shoah is also known as the Holocaust, from a Greek word meaning “sacrifice by fire,” in reference to the concentration camp ovens used to dispose of bodies.

In order to never forget the Holocaust, Jews and others observe Yom HaShoah – Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day.

Yom HaShoah, which occurs on the 27th of the Hebrew month of Nissan (April 7 this year), is a national holiday in Israel. It is a day dedicated to somber reflection in recognition of the millions of lives taken by the Nazis.

The day also urges us to reflect on the acts of Jewish and non-Jewish resistance that took place throughout World War II.

More than 30,000 Jews managed to escape from Nazi ghettos and camps and joined organized resistance groups or formed their own groups.

The people who joined the resistance, called partisans, were regular people, most without military training, who would attack and harass the Nazis from within occupied territory.

Most synagogues and Jewish communities commemorate Yom HaShoah by gathering for worship, music and to hear the stories of Holocaust survivors.

This year, Temple Beth Or’s observance of Yom HaShoah will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 7, at the synagogue located at 3215 Lombard Ave., Everett. The public is invited to attend.

Congregants will participate in a Reader’s Theater where they will read the words of partisans. We will also share prayers, blessings and have a discussion after the Reader’s Theater.

Some partisans provided physical resistance. They focused on military and strategic targets by blowing up supply trains and destroying power plants and factories.

Others smuggled children to safety, carried messages between ghettos, forged documents and sabotaged military products they were forced to make for the Germans.

Ten percent were women. Some were fighters and scouts, but the majority filled vital support roles, such as cooking, caring for the sick and hiding children, while enduring unimaginable hardships.

Other partisans offered spiritual resistance, which didn’t directly affect the Nazis but helped Jews maintain their dignity and faith.

They held prayer services, taught children to read Hebrew, performed in theater groups or in concerts, painted pictures and wrote poems.

Tragically, genocide is still not obsolete. Yom HaShoah commands us to never forget the Holocaust and inspires us to fight against hatred and intolerance throughout the world.

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