Chag Pesach Sameach! I hope you are enjoying your Passover holiday and tried the yoich (gefilte fish broth) just once.
We are celebrating Good Deeds Month this April. Please click here to see the full range of virtual and Covid-safe in person volunteer opportunities. We hope you will participate.
Yom in Hebrew means day -- just a regular, random day. But when you add a powerful word after it, it can change from just a day to something more meaningful: Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut. These are special days, each one more powerful than the other. I am proud that our community will be highlighting each of these in the days ahead.
Yom HaShoah (Day of [Remembrance for] the Catastrophe (the Holocaust) and the Heroism is marked each year on the 27th of the Hebrew month of Nissan which corresponds to the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, a date selected by the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) in 1951.
It should be noted that the United Nations created International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 since it is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Russian forces. Implicit in this date, however, is a sense of Jewish victimhood and the need for the world to provide strength and salvation. To the fledgling State of Israel, this was the wrong message.
The new Jewish homeland would allow the Jewish people to lead their own destiny. Thus, the shift in date and name to something that would call attention to the pockets of resistance -- the retention of dignity amid unimaginable circumstances. In Jewish communities throughout the world, including here in Portland, Yom HaShoah ceremonies recall the tragedy, mourn our shared and personal loss, and honor those who survived – committing to ensure that such horrors never happen again.
On April 7, please join the Oregon Board of Rabbis and Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) for a special Yom HaShoah service at 7:00 p.m. The following day from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. will be the annual Reading of the Names, which you can register for and watch via Zoom. This year a selection of community members, elected officials, and Holocaust survivors will be reading at the Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Washington Park and the names read will be those written on the Memorial, which recognizes the lost families and friends of local Holocaust survivors.
Yom HaZikaron is Israel’s Memorial Day. Enshrined into law in 1963 as a day of memory for soldiers who lost their lives in battle on behalf of a Jewish homeland. Happening the day before Israeli Independence Day, the juxtaposition serves as a tribute and reminder that freedom and relative safety enjoyed daily in Israel is only possible because of the individual heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our people and our shared dream of peace. With the passage of time and the collective trauma due to ongoing conflict and terrorism, the day now honors not just fallen soldiers, but also those who lost their lives in terrorist attacks.
In Israel, virtually no one has been spared the pain of losing a loved one, relative, friend, or peer in the ongoing defense of the nation.
The Mittleman Jewish Community Center (MJCC) is sponsoring two programs for Yom HaZikaron. On Tuesday, April 13 at 5:00 p.m. listen to an intimate conversation about loss and the healing power of personal and collective mourning as shared by Israelis who know the heartache from their own experiences.
At 7:30 p.m. that evening, join our Portland Israeli and Jewish communities in honoring those who gave their lives for the State of Israel. This will be a 30-minute virtual program hosted on Zoom.
Yom HaAtzmaut -- Moments after the sun sets on Yom HaZikaron, the flag at Har Herzl (the National military cemetery) is raised from half-staff to full height and an emotional transition from tears to joy happens. This is the onset of Yom HaAtzmaut -– marking the anniversary of Israel declaring its independence on the 5th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar in 1948.
Our community will host multiple programs celebrating Israel.
Join the Jewish Federation on Monday, April 12 at 12:00 noon for an insider’s view of Israel’s relationship with the United Arab Emirates. Ilan Sztulman Starosta, Head of Mission at the Israeli Consulate in Dubai will present. Register here.
On the eve of Israel’s 73rd independence celebration, Wednesday, April 14 at 5:00 p.m., the MJCC is sponsoring a virtual tour of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Israel with an interview with Chemi Peres, the chairman of the Center’s board and venture capitalist. Register here.
The Jewish Federations of North America will be hosting a Global Celebration of Israel on April 15 at 4:00 p.m. His Excellency Reuven Rivlin, outgoing President of Israel, will deliver his farewell address to the Diaspora community. Amar’e Stoudemire, six-time NBA All-Star and player development assistant for the New York Knicks will join the virtual 73-hoops challenge to celebrate Israel’s 73rd birthday. Yonina, the Israeli-American husband and wife musical duo will perform. For more information, to see who the additional presenters are, and to register, click here.
The MJCC will also be holding a special virtual community celebration on Sunday, April 18. Events will include cooking demonstrations, arts and crafts, virtual tours of Israel, sing alongs, and more! Check out the full schedule here.
I share all of this because I hope we recognize the centrality of Israel to our identity and our people. In that vein, we foster a deep commitment to, and lifelong relationship with, the State of Israel -- including its language, culture, and people. We nurture ahavat yisrael/אהבת ישראל (love of Israel) through gaining a deep knowledge of Israel’s history, culture, and contemporary society, as well as learning from our Jewish texts.