The official Yom HaShoah poster in Israel designed by Dorielle Rimmer
Tonight marks the start of Yom HaShoah, the commemoration the Shoah, or Holocaust. Yom HaShoah is an essential day in the Jewish calendar, providing a collective focal point for our individual remembrance. As the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, puts it: “We cannot bring the dead back to life, but we can bring their memory back to life and ensure they are not forgotten. We can undertake in our lives to do what they were so cruelly prevented from doing in theirs.”
Unlike Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), which coincides with the Allied liberation of Auschwitz, Yom HaShoah is timed according to the date of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Yom HaShoah is particularly Jewish, whereas HMD recognises the universal nature of the Holocaust. Central to our own Jewish day of remembrance is the role of youth movements and young people, and this provides an example for us to emulate today.
After the start of the Second World War, many Zionist youth leaders who had managed to flee to safety in the east made the decision to return to Nazi-occupied Poland. Youth leaders of movements like Betar, Hashomer Hatzair, Dror and He-Halutz returned voluntarily after several months spent in Russia and Lithuania, motivated by a sense of responsibility as local leaders, not only to their young chanichim (members), but to the Jewish community as a whole.
Once back in Poland, these leaders became central to life in the ghettos, the densely-packed part of town where Jews were forced to live by the Nazis. Without a school system, Zionist youth movements became central to education in the ghettos, establishing kibbutz groups and underground schools, publishing newspapers, and training new leaders through informal education. This passive resistance ensured a flourishing cultural life in the ghetto, helping young people to develop despite their situation.
As the Nazi killing machine accelerated through 1940-3, youth movements changed tactic, moving from passive to active resistance. The youth movements became the driving force behind the armed resistance movements in the ghettos, most famously in Warsaw. When the Nazis tried to enact their final deportation of the Jews on April 19th 1943, the whole ghetto rebelled, led by the 23 year old Mordechai Anielewicz. Despite the massive mismatch in resources, these Jewish resistance fighters held off the Nazis for 24 days, killing 20-100 (depending on the source), and the Nazis were forced to treat this rebellion as a full-scale battle.
News of the uprising spread across Europe and helped encourage other ghettos to resist. The Warsaw Ghetto Revolt is an extraordinary example of what Jewish youth and youth movements are capable of in the face of adversity.
Over the last few days, FZY members have visited the Warsaw Ghetto as part of FZY’s first delegation on March of the Living to see firsthand where these events occurred. Tomorrow, they will join 8,000 other Jews from around the world to march three kilometres from Auschwitz to Birkenau to stand proud and prove that “Am Yisrael Chai” – the Jewish people lives.
FZY is proud to be a member of the forum for Yom HaShoah through the Zionist Youth Council, and encourages all members in London to go to the national memorial event this Sunday in Hyde Park, as well local events around the country.
As part of my role on the Mazkirut, I am responsible for ensuring that FZY’s fulfils its aim of tzedakah, and at the moment I am focusing on ways to exceed the £8000 target that we have agreed with the UJIA to donate to our partnership project, the Ethiopian Bar and Bat Mitzvah (EBBM) project.
I write this blog as a kind of plea to appeal to your enormous heart-strings to get involved in fundraising projects. As members of FZY and those fortunate to be born into a society where not having some sort of Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah party is unusual, I believe we really can make a difference to these people’s lives who already feel isolated from the Jewish world.
The Ethiopian community in Israel, is not as fortunate as ours and its youth relies on the generosity of others in the hope that they receive the simplest of gifts including new clothes and good tuition in preparation for their rite of passage from childhood to Jewish maturity.
If you are now asking yourself what you can do to help, the answer my friends is simple.
First of all available to everyone to purchase at the cost of £8 is an “I ♥ FZY t-shirt” available from both North and South offices, just contact a Movement Team member who will oblige your request. There is also a range of other FZY merchandise for sale such as laundry bags and puzzles.
Secondly attending Chavorot meetings and Bogrim events, will help you donate as all proceeds go to this worthwhile cause
Thirdly you can enter a sponsored event for the EBBM fund and get people to sponsor you in aid of the charity.
And finally if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then watch this space for upcoming summer FUNdraising initiatives on Tour and Summer Camp.
Thanks in advance for all your help, there is no gift greater in my opinion then giving a Barmitzvah and making one 13-year old feel part of our FZY family x
By Gilad Amzaleg
Gilad sits on the Mazkirut (FZY’s National Executive) and grew up in Project 500 (FZY’s northern-most Chavura in Glasgow). He is currently planning a Chavurot Seminar in Glasgow.
On the 18th of October 2011 the whole world was glued to their TV to watch the release of a single IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit. After five brutal years of captivity the swap was finally made and few people cared about the political background or the competing agendas behind it. All anyone cared about was that he was getting back to his family, and home, in Mitzpe Hila. After the huge celebration, partying and Gilad returning home, Israel and the world settled down and thought… “What now?”
This is the exact same question we FZYniks face. “What now?” After a 5-year long campaign to get Gilad Shalit released, it has finally happened. At least this part of our Magen campaign is complete. But “What to do now?” Shall we move onto another Magen campaign or stay with MIA’s (Missing in Action soldiers). Should we move onto a non-Jewish cause like the genocide in Darfur or should we protest for the release of Israeli spy Jonathon Pollard?
There are many choices, however one thing for sure is that FZY CANNOT be Magen-less. The FZY motto is a movement that never stops moving and right now, some could argue that FZY has STOPPED. So let us not neglect our responsibility to stand up and make our voices heard or ignore causes that need support. Lets put our heads together and find a new Magen campaign, so that we can find the new cause to mobilise our generation…
By Oliver Calmonson, FZY Mazkirut member and Comms Director
This weekend saw yet another successful Mazkirut seminar as the newly elected Mazkirut – the executive decision-making body of FZY – met for the first time since Vieda, where they were elected. The Mazkirut meet at least six times throughout the year to elect the new movement team, discuss important decisions and create projects that help FZY move forward and accomplish its aims. This year the Mazkirut are:
- Michael, Oli, Simon, Gilad, (Harry), Josh, Eytan, Joel, Debs, Emro and Nicola (in spirit)
The weekend had the usual ‘shabbatmosphere’ we have come to expect from FZY events, full of ideology, banter, education and, of course, food. The new team was brought up to speed with the current state of the movement and there was much discussion and debate as to how the movement should progress throughout the coming year. Each member has taken on either an individual or group project to enhance FZY and build a legacy for future Mazkuriot. Some will be completed within the month whilst others will take time and we may not see the full effects of them for years to come. However the wheels have been set in motion and hopefully great things are afoot.
If you want to bring something up for the Mazkirut to discuss, if you are unhappy with an aspect of the movement or you have an amazing idea for a new project or campaign, please do not hesitate to get in touch with any of us.