The lessons of the Holocaust are the flashing red light that mark the cliff at the endpoint of humanity. We can either chose to take heed or perish by allowing society to careen over the edge. These lessons not only instruct us on the past, they are a portent of things to come - if we allow them to come. This is why the Holocaust is and always will be a part of the Jewish communal narrative and why we commit to Never Forget. If one chooses to not identify with the lessons of the Holocaust, they are not only turning a blind eye to history, they are simultaneously not assisting in the prevention of the repetition of history.
I've heard all too often from members (note, some, not all) of my generation and subsequent generations that they are tired of the Jewish community using the tragedies of the Holocaust as a narrative for increased involvement. I'm always perplexed by this statement, because I wasn't aware that the lessons of the Holocaust were intended as a tool for engagement. The lessons of the Holocaust are much more significant and persist, regardless of how one identifies with them in the context of participation in the community. Whether you are actively involved in the community or not, the Holocaust and its relationship with the past, present and future of the Jewish community is the 800lb gorilla in the room.
The irony is that while some are waiting for the correct narrative to spur on their engagement in the community - those who seek our demise could care less. They don't care about political beliefs, level of ritual observance or attitudes about communal involvement. Today, in 2016, Jews around the world are being persecuted for one reason, being Jewish. When the terrorist who stormed the Hyper Casher market in France murdered Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen and Francois-Michel Saada, he only asked one question prior to the act, "Are you Jewish?"
While some feel that there is time to ruminate on narratives for engagement, the situation we face today is that Jews are being persecuted, attacked and murdered for no other reason other than THEY ARE. The simple act of existing is enough of a crime to bring about intolerance and violence. Whether or not one identifies with the Holocaust narrative, or any other narrative, is irrelevant.
We, as a community, must come together and act as a community. We must be mindful, not only of each other, but of others in the Jewish and non-Jewish community who are being persecuted or experiencing intolerance. We are the roadblock that can keep humanity from reaching the flashing red light at the end. As the great scholar of Holocaust studies, Yehuda Bauer, so poignantly stated, “Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”
Shabbat Shalom and, as always, I welcome your thoughts at email@example.com