But if anything has marked Yom HaShoah, it has been impermanence. Even the date itself (27 Nisan), is an anniversary of nothing. In the first six years after the war, there was no rabbinic or secular date of observance. Secular Israelis were drawn to the April anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto revolt. Orthodox Jews mostly folded Shoah memorials into Tisha B'Av. The Knesset, in 1951, set the date, as politicians will, by compromise, close to Passover, when the Warsaw uprising began, but not on Passover, out of respect for tradition. Linking Yom HaShoah to any one event would only antagonize those whose memories lay elsewhere, and so the date is linked to nothing, more political than inspirational.
The first major ritual, in the 1960s, was a non-denominational one - a siren that eerily broke the mid-day routine. Storekeepers would freeze behind their counters, pedestrians would stop walking, drivers would turn off their cars and stand at attention in the middle of the street. Bnai Jeshurun's Rabbi Rolando Matalon recalled being in Israel, studying a text: "I was alone-and then the siren. I stood up. There were no words, but it's the deepest I ever felt" on Yom HaShoah.
That minimalism is what Rabbi Matalon brings to his synagogue on Yom HaShoah: No megillah. No haggadah. Just silence as people wait in line to read the names of loved ones, while congregants hold two Torahs that survived the Shoah.
So when Howard Zinn says "To remember what happened to the six million Jew ... served no important purpose unless it aroused indignation, anger, action against all atrocities, anywhere in the world," fsck him.
It's like one of the Sioux tribes claiming the genocide of the Native Americans was a Sioux holocaust.
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