Zachor: The Jewish Response to Pain

I was asked to introduce the third chapter of Eichah, the Book of Lamentations read on the eve of Tisha Ba’av. 

Lamentations is widely believed by scholars to have been written by the Prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) . The prophet describes all of the suffering that befell the Jewish people at the time of the destruction of the Temple and asks: “Eichah! How is it possible?”

In chapter 3 Yirmiyahu moves from grief and despair to hope and faith. In verse 19, Yirmiyahu cries out to God, saying  “זְכָר עָנְיִי, remember my suffering. In verse 20 he cries out again, “zachor”.

No one word so powerfully encompasses the Jewish response in the face of pain and tragedy as our manifesto: Zachor. Remember.

During our greatest moments of joy under the wedding canopy we break a glass to commemorate the destruction of our Temple and mournfully sing “If I forget oh thee Jerusalem.” One’s personal joy is tempered by a national tragedy that we refuse to forget.

No one person has so powerfully devoted their life to the perpetuation of zachor and to the memory of the 6 million souls who perished in the holocaust as Elie Wiesel.  Just as Yirmiyahu resolves to remember but also to hope-Survivor, Writer, activist, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate , Elie Wiesel  one said:

Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.

Seeing is Believing



Sitting on the plane returning from MJE’s annual trip to Israel, I ask myself the same question every year: What is it?

What is it that makes such an enormous impact on those who travel to Israel? What is it about this place, that in just a week, can radically transform a person’s perspective on Judaism?

There are many answers to this question but one is evidence. Israel provides evidence of the authenticity and realness of Judaism.

To many young Jews growing up in America, Judaism is presented as something almost like a fairy tale. We are told stories of a great and glorious history, but it’s a relic of the past that may or may not be true, and, for most, has almost no relevance to everyday life in America.

Much of this changes when you visit Israel because in Israel you don’t simply hear about Judaism, you experience it yourself. In Israel you don’t just study or read about Jewish history, you see it. And seeing is believing. CONTINUE READING ON TIMES OF ISRAEL…