When We Remember, We Become Stronger

April 17, 2023

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO

Memory is a defining feature of Jewish peoplehood. Memory is embedded in our traditions and culture. We tell stories about our history, hold observances to shape the meaning of those stories, and pay it forward by passing them on to the next generation.

Over the next 10 days, we will hold three commemorations, gathering in shared acts of remembrance that invite us to reflect on lessons from our past, their meaning for today, and what we can learn from them to secure our collective future.

On Yom HaShoah, April 17-18, we remember the immense crime that was inflicted on our people when 6 million sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and friends were murdered in the Holocaust. By listening to the stories of those who survived the horror and lighting candles to hold close the memory of those we lost, we restate our vow, “Never Again,” knowing that the hatreds that exploded into the Holocaust still infect our world and still threaten the innocent.

On Yom Hazikaron, April 24-25, we remember the men and women, many in the prime of their lives, who died in battle to defend Israel and we remember the victims of terror attacks. On that day, all of Israel twice comes to a standstill for two minutes, a time for pausing day-to-day busyness and honoring the sacrifices that have been necessary to restore our Jewish homeland after two millennia and keep it safe from ever-present danger.

On Yom Ha’atzmaut, April 25-26, we move from somber remembrance to joyful celebration as we mark the founding of the State of Israel. Israel is core to Jewish identity and a beacon for Jewish communities everywhere. This year, Yom Ha’atzmaut bears special significance. Israel’s 75th anniversary is a milestone that invites marveling at all that Israel has accomplished and contributed to humanity. It is a time for sober reflection on the contentious questions confronting Israelis about the future of their democracy, which is of grave concern to the Diaspora in the U.S.— and it is an invitation for Israel’s friends in the Diaspora to remain engaged with our mishpacha and provide our support in the spirit of helping them seek the best path forward for the next 75 years and beyond.

We invite you to join in local commemorations of Israel’s 75th anniversary.

Days of remembrance are family affairs where we share the stories that give memory a central place in Jewish life. Memory points the way forward to our shared future as a resilient people guided by the ethic of Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh, that all Jews are responsible for one another.