Koli Kulanu: President’s Reflections

Marc Lieber Koli Kulanu

April 20, 2020

Yom HaSho’ah

At the Passover seder we tell the story of the sages staying up all night in B’nei Brak discussing the exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah says that to dwell on the story of Passover at length is praiseworthy. That’s where I’m at. I dwell on stories of strength, triumph, and God preserving and strengthening the Israelites and the Jewish people.

I dwell on the story of Israel. Especially today, in these times of people bashing Israel internationally and here in the US. The narrative in my mind is partisans and halutzim and smugglers, parachutes and rustling up an air force. Handing guns to immigrants as they step off the boat to go fight and defend Israel. Making the desert bloom. Start-up nation.

I try not to dwell on the Holocaust. I think it important that everyone learn about the Holocaust. I applaud the amazing work done at the Holocaust Museum to educate all on the Holocaust as history, and to teach that intolerance can have terrible consequences. Annette’s parents escaped from Germany just before the outbreak of WWII, and their story inspires and reminds me. I am proud that the daughter of one of our congregants is a Holocaust educator, and one of our congregants is in a leadership role at the Holocaust Museum.

There were of course many stories of bravery and triumph of the human spirit amid the Holocaust, and I dwell on these too. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The inspiring humanity of Viktor Frankl. The courage to celebrate Jewish holidays in the despair of the concentration camps.

Most important, I dwell on the decision by Holocaust survivors to move forward, marry, bring children into the world, and live lives of meaning. It would be natural to shut down, go into depression, or decide that the world is too cruel and inhumane to bring children into it. Some survivors did that. Many (most?) survivors went on to live meaningful lies. My in-laws moved past any bitterness and built beautiful lives here in America. This to me was the ultimate answer to Hitler and intolerance: we are here, we continue.

Yom HaShoah inspires me to think about how to create meaning in my own life. It inspires me to think about Israel and to be thankful for this amazing nation, the homeland for the Jewish people, in our ancient land. Yom HaShoah reminds me of who I can and should be as a person and as a Jew, and it reminds me to keep the shining vision of Israel before me: to be a free nation, in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.

Yes, I’ll admit to holding on to a rosy picture of Israel. I’m quite familiar with Israel’s challenges: political, economic, social, military, demographic, religious. Yom HaSho’ah teaches me to never despair, focus on what I can control, be strong, and move forward.

I want to be in dialogue with you. You can click here to send me a message, or you can email me at mplieber@ymail.com. I am thrilled to hear from you, to get to know you better, and to hear your suggestions on continuing Kol Shalom’s growth and value to you.

Thank you for your help and for your part in our kehillah k’dosha, our sacred community!

Marc Lieber, President