This year is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
There have been many commemorations, marches, trips to Poland and other events. Most of the time the same slogan is put forth: Never again.
Never again what?
Never again will there be concentration camps? Never again will Jews be persecuted? Never again will Jews have to endure subtle and not-so subtle antisemitism?
Slogans are easy. Bring back our girls is a perfect example. After Boko Haram kidnapped more than 300 young girls in Nigeria the world was busy with #bringbackourgirls. And then, what? Did it bring back the girls? No. Did it help them in any way? No. It made those saying it feel that they were doing something when, in fact, they were doing nothing.
Never again. Do the Jewish youth of today understand what those two words mean? Sadly, we have heard that the vast majority does not.
Never again means living as a Jew. It means walking around like a proud Jew. It means not cowering in the face of other religions that, for the moment, seem to have a stronger belief than we have. It means marrying another Jew. It means having Jewish grandchildren. It means teaching our children about their heritage.
It is likely that anyone under the age of forty (and we’re being kind), know very little about the Holocaust, especially if they have gone through the public school system. It’s not on their radar. They don’t care about it.
If we want never again to really be never again then we have to wake up. Today, right now. We don’t want to bust anyone’s bubble, but assimilating didn’t work in Germany and it won’t work anywhere else. Jews are different: we look different, act different, have different values and morals and live differently than other religions.
Did you know that one could never renounce their Judaism? Oh, one can say the words and go to whatever institutions they think they have converted to, but their soul will remain Jewish forever.
There was once a simple Jew named Reb Zushe of Annipoli, who used to say, “When I get into the World to Come, I am not afraid that they will ask me, why did you not reach the level of our Father Abraham. I am not Abraham, I am not on his level, and I am not blessed with his talents and capabilities. I am afraid that they will ask me, why weren’t you Zushe?”
It’s time for parents to teach their children what never again means. Or maybe it’s time for the children to teach their parents.
Come back home, get comfortable in your own skin and be who you really are: a son or daughter of the Jewish people.