Time & holidays in Jewish History – James E Young – Texture of Memory

pg 264 – Though it is not a public fast day, Yom Hashoah Vehagvurah (Day of HOlocaust and Heroism) owes its existence to the tradition , even as it was proposed in dialectical opposition to it. As such , Yom Hashoah inscribes memory of events into the Jewish calendar even as it finally nationalises and secularises such memory. In addition to being shaped by its place on the calendar, Holocaust Remembrance Day also lends its own cast to other, already existing holy days. Passover and Hannukka, for example, are transformed and revalued in Israel’s remembrance of heroism during the Shoah. Their traditional significance as times when god actively interceded on behalf of the Jew are now coloured by new reading emphasising the Jews’ own actions. IN all cases, the calendar figures prominently in the Contemporary grasp of realities and responses to them: its narrative continues to bear the consequences of both meaning and action.

pg 267 – Remembrance days of mutliple disasters sprang not from the coincidental occurence of events on the same day, but from the assuredly noncoincidental single meaning assigned by the tradition to all disasters, nomatter how disparate. As a reult, not only were entirely unrelated disaster reported to have occured on exactly the same day Cenutire apart (the destruction of the first and second temples, for example_ but all disasters were assinged the same meaning – Mipnei Hataeinu (because of our sins). According to the Rambam, the aim of the four fasts is to “stir the hears, top open roads to repentance and to remind us of our own evil deeds, and of our fathers’ deeds which were like ours, as a consequence of which these tragic affliction came upon them and upon us [yad, hilchot ta’aniyot 5:1] For the founders of the modern Israel, such meaning created in the Shoah by the traditional calendar was repulsively unacceptable.

[n.q might need to read more into the the controversy of dates and holidays to mark the holocaust etc.. learnt what the holidays mean]

pg 269 – In the end, by choosing the 27th of Nissan, the committee dramtically emplotted the entire story of Israel’s national rebirth, drawing on a potent combination of religious and national mythologies. Pulled from both the middle of the six-week ghetto uprising and the 7th week Sfirah, this day retained links to both heroism and mourning… In this sequence, biblical and modern returns to the land of Israel are recalled; God’s deliverance of the Jews from the desert of exile is doubled by the Jew’s attempted deliverance of themselves in Warsaw.

pg 270 (in 1950 ) But this was also a time in Israel when bare mention of the Shoah, or the fact that one had survived it , might have been met with surly contempt. It was a time when survivors were still being shamed into silence by those claiming the forsight to have left Europe before the onslaught. In the early statists’ view, the Shoah was redeemable- hence, memorable – by little more than instances of heroism and Jewish courage it evoked in some of its victims, the hopelessness of Jewish life in exile, and the proven need for a sate to defend Jews everywhere. [please see Civil Religion in Israel Liebman for more info]


pg 271 – As finally passed by the Knesset on 7th April 1959, the law for this Day of Remembrance of Holocaust and Heroism reads;

1. The 27th of Nissan is the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and Heroism, dedicated every year to remembrance of the catastrophe of the Jewish people caused by Nazis and their aides, and of the acts of Jewish heroism and resistance in that period. Should the 28th of Nissan fall on a Friday, the Day of Remembrance shall be marked on the 26th of Nissan of that Year. 

2. On the Day of Remembrance there shall be observed Two minutes silence throughout the state of Israel, during which all traffic on the roads shall cease. Memorial services and meeting shall be held in Army camps and in educational institutions; flags on public buildings shall be flown at half mast; radio programmes shall express the special character of the day, and the programmes in places of amusement shall be in keeping with the spirit of the day.

3. The minister authorised by the government shall draft, in consultation with the Yad Vashem Remembrance Authority, the necessary instruction for the observance of the Day of Remembrance as set forth in this Law.

[quoted from the “Day of Memroial for vitims of the European Jewish Disaster and Heroism – 27 Nissan 5719,” Yad vashem bulletin , octo 1959:27]






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