When Remembering Isn’t Enough – Rev. Aaron Payson, Preaching

Writing for Haaretz in 2018, Yael Shahar notes,

For most cultures, a memorial day is a day for transcending sadness. Pomp and ceremony keep the events in people’s minds, while allowing them to rise above the pertinent emotions. And yet, there are no such memorial days in the Jewish calendar. Instead, we have days of mourning and fasting. The difference is important. There’s an old joke that explains Jewish holidays: “They tried to kill us; we won; let’s eat!” It’s funny precisely because it expresses a deeper truth. But the corollary is also true when it comes to our days of grief: “They tried to kill us; they won; let’s not eat.” We don’t commemorate, we relive. We sit barefoot on the ground in old clothing and mourn. We fast as if we might still alter the outcome, as if we were still in the midst of the whirlwind. We experience our own vulnerability as a nation and as individuals.

On this Sunday we honor the Yom HaShoah, the Jewish day of remembrance of the Holocost.  In the aftermath of attacks on Asian citizens in this country, the continuing rise of White Nationalism here and abroad, and continuing violence in communities of color in our midst, we pause and ask what lessons we need to not simply remember from genocides in our history, but how we can faithfully respond to reshape our communities, country and world to meet the challenges of such violence – lest we repeat the horror again.