I’ve always struggled with Yom HaShoah events on campus. Without a doubt, we MUST remember and make the Holocaust an important part of the Jewish (and global) curriculum. But each year in the spring, whether for a speaker or to read names on Kogan Plaza, students come out of the woodwork to our remembrance event and then I never see them again. They (RIGHTFULLY) prioritize remembering a horrible past. But what about their bright Jewish futures?
These past few weeks, following a number of swastika incidents on campus, I think my Yom HaShoah struggle may need tweaking.
After the most recent incident, I planned to hold my regular uGeW meeting. We were scheduled to talk about hot topics, none of which involved anti-semitism. Yet as any good educator must be willing to do, it was obvious to me that I needed to throw our lesson plan out the window and give space for 8 incredible students to process what was happening on campus. The room was tense, the conversation heated. It became apparent to me that swastikas and Holocaust remembrance are, and must continue to be, doorways to the future as much as to the past. My students asked of each other questions on choices and consequences, on how to honor the past and represent themselves proudly into the future. Questions of self-awareness entered the conversation, as did those around reputation and ego and how we perceive our peers. So many layers, so much good conversation, all infusing their worldviews and sense of Jewish selves. Could a Jewish educator want anything more than that?
What do moments of Jewish sadness allow you to question regarding your own Jewish future? What thoughts and questions have been on your mind regarding the recent events on campus?