Avraham Burg: Our Holocaust, but Not Ours Only
(Crossposted from The Huffington Post)
This coming Sunday evening in Israel and around the Jewish world, is the Holocaust Remembrance Day (in Hebrew, 'Yom Ha'Shoah'). It is a well-known, accepted and respected reality amongst the Jewish people that the horrors of World War II and the atrocities against the Jewish people are a national tragedy. Few, however, are aware that this national tragedy became a de facto national strategy, as well.
A few years ago I addressed this concept in my book titled, The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise From its Ashes (Palgrave Macmillan 2008). In the book I argued that we must always remember the victims, their hopes, prayers and legacies, but we should never allow ourselves to live, or get permanently stuck, in that traumatic past. I fully believe that we have to think about our today and tomorrow differently than this terrible past. Therefore, I offered a new national strategy in which we, as a people, can and must move from trauma to trust. Many were incapable of listening to me and to such ideas and rejected it outright, while others embraced it with enthusiasm. Of those who accepted my proposal were my teachers and mentors; my children. I would like to share with you several passages from the book that were inspired by their wisdom. I hope to convey through these excerpts the origin of my proposed strategy and the importance of implementing it today for ourselves and for our future generations:
"I look at the photos that my children send me from their travels around the world. I try to perceive the faraway landscapes from their vantage point and to share their experience through the images. They travel not only to distance themselves from the impure experiences of an army, war, occupation, corruption and cynicism, but also in search of other landscapes, spiritual ones. The new spirituality that is revealed to them is contained in their letters home. We miss you, Dad, we long and yearn to be with you, but we find here what we don't have at home. We love and want to love even more. We, the generation of the new age, are open to and enriched by meetings and encounters with whatever is different from us. We are not threatened and do not keep to ourselves; on the contrary. My children, our children, seek an encounter with worlds that have not been tainted with the bloody Shoah. They search for a spirituality that is based on dialogue, not trauma. They seek the calm of Buddhist countries and want to bring it back home with them to put us all on a softer course of life that is accepting and containing, not hostile, suspicious, sharp-edged and rejects all. They are children who touch the spiritual even though they are not religious..."
"The new paradigms that originated from the Shoah must be sensitive and directed toward the creation of a better human and better humanity, toward people and cultures that will never again produce slaughterers like the Nazis and will not allow victimization. One law will be in the land for the persecuted of the entire world, whatever group: Armenian, Gypsy, Jew, homosexual, migrant, or a refugee from Rwanda, Cambodia, or Palestine. The new theology, especially the Jewish one, must break out of the boundaries of the old faith and make the faith in the human, God's creation, a tenet of its legacy and traditions, as a mandatory basis for a dialogue between the believers of all faiths..."
'Two people emerged from Auschwitz,' wrote Professor Yehuda Elkana, a wise man, a Shoah survivor, and an early mentor to me, 'a minority that claims 'this will never happen
again,' and a frightened majority that claims: 'this will never happen to us again.'"
During this sad and moving weekend, when I will think about my dear ones, the innocents who were perished at the hands of the Nazis, I will be comforted by the wisdom of my children and my teachers. And again, as in previous years, I will renew my vow: Never Again! Not just for us -- the Jews -- only, but for all of humanity. "For this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes, Ch. 12 v.13).
May Their Memory be a Blessing!