Remembering... and teaching
Times flows on; the years roll by.
One generation’s agonies become an entry in the next generation’s history books. Before we bid our last farewell we strive always to ensure that the memories of one generation become also the memories of all generations.
Thus we remember that 17 years ago on the 12th day of Cheshvan (Nov. 4, 1995), Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered mere moments after he spoke of his hopes for peace to a large gathering of Israelis in Tel Aviv.
One of the Israelis there, distrusting of the prime minister and of his plans for the future, decided that it was within God’s law, if not within the mere laws of man, to kill the prime minister. Yigal Amir’s disapproval of Rabin’s policies led him to demonize the prime minister, to disentitle the prime minister to the very right to live. He felt righteously justified in taking Rabin’s life away. And so, cravenly but with evil calculation, Yigal Amir killed Yitzhak Rabin, shooting him in the back.
And thus unfolded, in the words spoken Sunday by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a memorial for the slain former prime minister, “one of the greatest crimes in our modern history. It stains Israel’s history and the history of Zionism… and will always be remembered as one of the most traumatic events in our nation’s history.”
We therefore remember Yitzhak Rabin. But, alas, we must also remember that he was murdered by an individual who could not distinguish between demonizing a policy and demonizing a human being.
We must therefore always teach the difference to our children.
And we must, of course, also teach the memories of the slaughter of the generation of the Jews of Europe during the dark days and nights between 1933 and1945.
At this time of year, near the anniversary of Kristallnacht on Nov. 10, 1938, communities throughout the country, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, from Vancouver to Halifax, provide Holocaust education programs to the wider public.
For example, Montreal is in the midst of a 10-day educational series (Oct. 24 to Nov. 4). Toronto begins its annual Holocaust Education Week today (Nov. 1-8). Ottawa hosts an entire month of Holocaust-related educational programs. The Atlantic Jewish Council, based in Halifax, launched its week of instruction and learning this week on Monday.
Wherever possible, we must try to attend at least one educational program, thereby setting an example that the only way to enshrine memories for generations to come is by teaching those memories to our children.