Two Voices: This week’s progressive Judaism debate tackles…Holocaust Commission
Rabbi Leah Jordan
The Jewish community doesn’t have a particular responsibility to mount a massive response to the government’s commission on how the Holocaust should be remembered. Certainly, we agree that it should be remembered, and we should be vocal in this. The plurality of responses regarding how it should be remembered, however – and the engagement this demands from everybody in society – these are the truly crucial and meaningful things here.
There are so many powerful and rich responses, social and theological, to how the Holocaust should be remembered – and so many questions. For example, what constitutes genocide? What was Britain’s attitude and response during the war? What are the contemporary relevances for today?
It is the duty of the British public as a whole, with the Jewish community as one part of that larger conversation, to weigh in on this conversation. As a progressive Jew, what I hold dear is the conversation rather than a predetermined conclusion.
However, the way the Holocaust is remembered by British adults and children should be determined by these important conversations, not by the ideological predeterminations of the Jewish community (even assuming a single unified Jewish voice on such a complex issue could be found).
• Rabbi Leah Jordan is an outreach officer for Liberal Judaism
The Holocaust was a unique event in history. Never before, or since, has a government set a policy of the total annihilation of
a racial or national group. Every individual death is as painful and incomprehensible as mass murder. And nearly every Jewish family
in Europe has shared in that experience.
The Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission was set up to explore the issues surrounding commemoration and education. So why do we, as Jews, need our own response? First, we have a special responsibility to those Jews who died unknown, alone and with no one to remember them.
Second, we owe it to our children to ensure that the lessons are learned, not just for the Jewish community, but for humanity itself.
Third, as Jews, if we do not take on this responsibility, then how can we expect others to do so? This is a one-off opportunity to shape government policy in an area that matters to Jews above all others, not in a theoretic way, but personally and universally.
We have a duty to speak out – always and loudly, today and every day.
• Laura Marks is the Board of Deputy’s Senior Vice-President and founder of Mitzvah Day