Yom Rivii, 19 AdarI 5781
Wednesday, 3 March 2021
Parashat Beshallach 2015

Parashat Beshallach
30th January 2015 - Rabbi Aaron Goldstein

"Let everyone cry out to God and lift their heart up to God, as if they were hanging by a hair, and a tempest were raging to the very heart of heaven, an they were at a loss for what to do, and there were hardly time to cry out. It is a time when no counsel, indeed can help a person and they have no refuge save to remain in their loneliness and lift their eyes and their hearts up to God, and cry out to the Eternal One. And this should be done at all times, for in the world, a person is in great danger."
Quoted in ‘Ten Rungs: Hasidic Sayings,’ Martin Buber, p. 27

I write this on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. You will have your own story. You may be a survivor or generation that followed. You may have escaped the direct horrors yet lived, as facts became part of your/our/my life. You will have read, heard, watched how our country’s media commemorated the Holocaust. You, We, I can never be unaffected.

In June, members of NPLS (Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue) will join together with an American Congregation that also has a Kolin memorial scroll (http://www.memorialscrollstrust.org/) and the dignitaries and townsfolk of Kolin, to commemorate the return of ‘their’ survivors (for a fuller story of:

For this we have to thank the incredible investment, both financially and more importantly, morally and emotionally of the individuals, successive authorities and the people of Kolin who have supported ‘our return,’ on an annual basis – the Jews of Kolin. For whilst we mourn, whilst we bring our Kabbalat Torah classes to ‘understand’ the Shoah, and whilst they do so by connecting with individuals - a child, a mother, a grandparent, a doctor, a chocolate maker – we also celebrate that fact of our existence as the Jews of NPLS, the Jews of Kolin. We exist and for that we cry out to God.

In the shockwaves of Jews slaughtered in Paris simply for being Jews, of Jews being driven out of Malmo, Sweden, of ‘situations’ in too many countries of our globe, and of the acknowledgement that we must all now make once more: There are some who irrationally hate us just for who we are, we cry out to God.

Yet we are the ones who in our liturgy must recite, Emet v’emunah kol zot – all this we hold to be true and sure (Siddur Lev Chadash, p. 16) – and Emet v’yatziv- true and established (ibid., p. 51) – before singing in joy, the words of Moses, Miriam and all the Israelites having gained their freedom crossing the Sea of Reeds which ultimately turned back on their pursuers: The words of Shirat ha’Yam, the Song of the Sea that we chant from Beshallach this week (Exodus 15).

We sing it as we cry to God with the agony of commemoration and with the joy of freedom. Our freedom, the gift of life, hanging by a hair: Now how will we use it?