Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
What are we supposed to say this year on Holocaust Remembrance Day? Esther Farbstein, the historian and founder of the Center for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem, sends the following message:
“Everyone of us has been trying to understand these days. Many have equated the lockdown and isolation of today to the period of the Holocaust. This is perhaps a spontaneous reaction during a time of extreme stress, but we need to be more careful. There are three huge differences:
First, we are not hungry. Imagine that the trials we are now facing began with worries over having enough to eat, to just staying alive, with children begging for food and old people starving.
Second, we are not really alone. Our isolation is, in general, ‘only’ physical. Technology and communication present the greatest contrast to the much more difficult isolation in the time of the Holocaust. Then we were truly alone – without phones or newspapers, left only in the company of frightening rumors.
And third, but above all, we are living today securely among Jews, suffering together but also standing together and supporting each other. Also, at this time, we are part of a human society that is not at war with itself and not at war with us, but fighting together with us against common hidden enemy.
If we are looking for a similarity between then and now, we need to examine in particular our sources of strength. As in every other era, physical existence in itself is not enough. It is anchored in love of family and in family values, in keeping our traditions despite difficult circumstances, in mutual assistance, in the power of faith and in ethical values.
Holocaust Remembrance Day in the corona era allows us to reflect, to be grateful for the kindness all around us, and to be keenly aware of the differences between then and now.”