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Hartman Institute Boys High School marks Holocaust Memorial Day

The chosen theme - And you shall choose life - taken from a passage in the Torah (Deuteronomy 30:20), emphasized the courage and ultimate optimism of the Jewish people


The Shalom Hartman Institute beit midrash (study hall) was packed to capacity with students, teachers and staff standing in silence at 10 am, May 1, as the Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) siren, rang through the country.
While each year’s Yom Hashoah ceremony is moving, this year’s, preceding Israel’s 60th anniversary by a week, was particularly meaningful.
The chosen theme, "And you shall choose life," taken from a passage in the Torah (Deuteronomy 30:20), emphasized the courage and ultimate optimism of the Jewish people.
A brief study of two sections of Mishnah dealing with the laws of mourning followed the siren and the mourning prayer, "El Male Rachamim." After learning that Jewish law requires that we do not mourn on festivals, the students occupied the stage with stories of survivors, as well as songs appropriate to the solemn day.
As heart wrenching as each story was, the ultimate message of every one was the strength and ability to rebuild a broken life: "And you shall choose life," particularly in the State of Israel.
Jerusalem city councilman and mayoral candidate Nir Barkat spoke about his own family’s story of flight from Poland and how he learned a great deal about his extended family – many of whom died in the Holocaust – at Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial and museum. One important lesson he said he took: The Jewish people need to be self reliant in order to exist.
Another highlight of the ceremony was the eloquent and moving personal account of one student’s trip to former concentration camp sites in Poland. Hartman Institute students, along with thousands of other Israeli high school students visit Poland each year. The student spoke about the importance of seeing the humanity in every living being as a screen in the background displayed photos from the school’s March of the Living trips.
Two tunes by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, one mournful and one joyful, the hymn "Ani Maamin" ("I Believe"), and "Hatikva," the national anthem, served as the climax and end of the ceremony.
Click here to read an extensive essay on the subject of evil, "The problem of evil: The world has a way of its own," based on sources from the Talmud. The essay includes a teacher’s guide and classroom exercises.

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