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The Weekly Parsha

Yom Ha-Shoah


Literally, "Day of the Destruction," also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. "Shoah" is the Hebrew word used for the Holocaust, often preferred because the term "Holocaust" comes from the Greek word for a burnt offering, as if that horrific mass murder could be compared to a divine offering. This is a memorial day for those who died in the Holocaust. 

The observance was established by the State of Israel a few years after its founding, in 1951. It was scheduled to be halfway between the start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (the largest act of resistance by Jews during the Holocaust) and the establishment of the modern state of Israel. The scheduled date is the 27th of Nissan, but is moved to Sunday if the scheduled date falls on Shabbat or to Thursday if that date falls on a Friday (interfering with Shabbat preparations).


Note that this observance is separate from the International Holocaust Remembrance Day created by the United Nations in 2005, which is observed on January 27 every year. That date was chosen because it was the anniversary of the Allies liberating the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, so to some degree it is an observance of the Allied victory over the Holocaust.


The State of Idaho will observe Yom Ha-Shoah from noon- 1p.m. on May 1 in the Lincoln Auditorium at the Idaho State Capitol. This will be the 38th consecutive ceremony. This year’s event will include a proclamation by Governor Brad Little, a symbolic candle lighting ceremony, performances by local musicians and choral groups and a reading by the winner of the Wilma Landman Loeb Holocaust Remembrance poetry contest. The event is open to all and is sponsored by Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel and the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights.

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Emor (Speak)

Leviticus 21:1–24:23


·      Special laws dealing with the Kohen Gadol (the High Priest) and others who serve the Temple: he may not be in contact with a dead body; may not marry a divorcee or a woman with a promiscuous past, and he can only marry a virgin. A priest with a physical deformity cannot serve in the Holy Temple.


·      Regarding animal sacrifice, a calf, lamb or kid must be left with its mother 7 days before being eligible to be an offering; one may not slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day.


·      Emor contains the Callings of Holiness – outlines of how we are to bring the Passover offering; bring the Omer offering between Passover and Shavu’ot; celebrate Shavu’ot; blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana; fast on Yom Kippur and dwell in a hut for Sukkot.


One of the more famous, if not misinterpreted statements from Parasha Emor is: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth…” (Lev. 21:8), which deals with compensation for physical harm inflicted by one person or upon another. It has often been misunderstood to mean that the Bible was in favor of crude vengeance. In fact, the rabbis of the Talmud (Baba Kamma 84a), reinterpreted this law to refer only to monetary compensation for the loss.


Emor includes the commandment to count each of the 49 days from the second night of Passover to the holiday of Shavuot. Fascinating in itself is the idea of each day counting as we moved from the Exodus to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. For example, we say that today is three plus thirty days, 4 weeks and five days of the Omer. Tradition has it that #33, Lag B'Omer, is an auspicious day for coming up with a personal plan of action. This is the day in history when life-sustaining manna started falling in the wilderness, when the first century CE revolt against Roman oppression began, and when the plague suffered by Rabbi Akiva's followers ended. It's also associated with the anniversary of the death of the reputed author of the Zohar Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.


Rabbi Robbi