On Thursday late afternoon from Israel I facetimed home to say good morning to my family. One of my children asked, “Daddy, what time is it there?” I answered.
“Did you already hear the siren today?” I thought, how did he know it was Yom Hashoah?
Before I could answer, his younger brother stated inquisitively, “But it is isn’t Yom Hazikaron and that is when they hear the siren.”
My wife and I had not mentioned to our boys anything about Yom Hashoah or Yom Hazikaron, but as a credit to their Jewish educational institution with whom we partner in raising our kids, in age appropriate ways they felt the rhythm of our people and Israel’s national calendar. I am currently flying home from a quick trip to Israel and while times are complex with vexing questions facing America, Israel and the world, I could not have felt more optimism and light and optimism on this Yom Hashoah.
I spent Yom HaShoah located at Kibbutz Shefayim just north of Herzliya, along with leaders from the URJ, Young Judea and Ramah Camping movements. At this conference we welcomed over 700 Israeli shlichim for a training seminar. They arrived some still in their army uniform. Some had left in the wee hours of the morning to use public transportation to come from every corner of the country. I met one who returned from several months in east Asia the night before so he could attend the Seminar. They were north Tel Aviv leftists and Bnai Akiva kids from small yishuvim and many frankly uninterested in politics.
Over the day, we took time with this beautiful Knesset Yisrael, assembly of Israel, to remember those lost in the Shoah. In that shadow of darkness recalling stories from survivors who are still among us, my heart was filled with hope, optimism and a sense of triumph. That dark shadow is overtaken by these dynamic and young Israelis. That historic sadness is balanced by a sense of hope that Ramah and the Jewish camping movement create by giving tens of thousands of young Jews in North America passion for Judaism and Israel. And, combining the resolve and youthful vigor of Israel with the openness and optimism of Ramah and Jewish camping creates the ultimate response to the Nazis as we sang on Thursday, Am Yisrael Chai!
Shabbat Shalom from our 2018 Mishlachat! Rabbi Joe, Yael, and our summer shlichim are spending Shabbat at Kibbutz Shfayim. Shlichim from all over Israel are gathering with leadership from summer camps across North America to prepare for the Kayitz! @nationalramah @jewishagency
Posted by Camp Ramah in California on Friday, April 13, 2018