Six Million Jewish Souls Cry Out, ‘Never Again, Never Again!’
In 1961, a law was passed in Israel that requires all public entertainment venues to be closed on Yom HaShoah to maintain the solemnity of the day. At 10:00 a.m., sirens are sounded throughout the nation and everyone in Israel stops what they are doing for two minutes to stand in silent remembrance.
How should we respond to the Holocaust?
As Rabbi Eckstein wrote in How Firm a Foundation, “All Jews alive today regard themselves as Holocaust survivors since Hitler’s plan was genocidal—to eradicate the entire Jewish nation. All bear the awesome responsibility of telling the story of those excruciating years” (p.170).
But how does one address something so devastating: something that is at once unfathomable, yet real; something unspeakable that we nonetheless must discuss in order to prevent it from ever happening again?
The Rabbi wrote, “The appropriate way to confront the Holocaust is first through silence and then through well-considered words. only after mourning the terrible loss dare we speak of that tragedy; only after reverential silence may we risk talking about it” (Ask the Rabbi, p. 152).
Of the many Jewish responses to the Holocaust, support for Israel is perhaps the most widely accepted and deeply felt. “Israel is the symbol of the contemporary Jewish resolve to live after having been tormented and persecuted for centuries. She epitomizes the Jewish rebirth as a dynamic, living people. . . . The existence of Israel goes to the very core of Jewish identity today,” states Rabbi Eckstein in How Firm a Foundation (pages 196–97).
In the same manner, supporting the beleaguered State of Israel after the Holocaust is one of the most profound acts of friendship christians can extend toward Jews.
Noted christian historian Franklin Littell wrote, “It is not possible to love a ‘Spiritual Israel’ and hate the earthly Israel. It is not possible to honor and obey the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and wish evil to the Jewish people. To lay it on the line:
it is not possible to side with those who seek Jerusalem’s destruction and be numbered a faithful christian. It was not possible in the Germany of the Third Reich, and it is not possible today in America.” [Franklin Littell, christians concerned for Israel, Notebook (April 1971): 1.]
The reality of the Holocaust challenges christian and Jew alike to grapple with difficult and soul-searching questions that plumb the depths of faith. Rabbi Eckstein says, “Is it possible for christian and Jew to still believe in a God who is omniscient and omnipotent
after His deafening silence when we needed Him most? can we speak as we did earlier of God’s abundant love and concern for mankind? can we talk of a good God guiding the course of history, while knowing that some events seem to reflect the utter absence of His love and guidance?”
Nevertheless, Rabbi Eckstein maintains that the individual of faith is compelled to confront such questions, trusting that both God and his or her own faith in God can withstand the challenge.
Through his chapter entitled “Facing the Challenges of the Holocaust” in How Firm A Foundation,Rabbi Eckstein concludes, “The primary imperative Jews have elicited from the Holocaust is to live, and never allow a similar Holocaust to occur again.” And likewise for the Christian.
Again, the Rabbi writes, “The primary imperative to be elicited by christians from the Holocaust is equally as compelling as is that of the Jews—to expunge any and all traces of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism from their midst. . . . They, too, are divinely obligated to ensure Jewish survival and to prevent a future Holocaust.