The Impact of Poland

By Eli C., Spring 2014 Student

Poland (23)Rabbi Emil Fackenheim once wrote: “Jews are forbidden to hand Hitler posthumous victories, they are commanded to survive as Jews, lest the Jewish People perish.”

After returning from Poland and learning about the Holocaust, I agree with Fackenheim’s quote now more than ever. As modern Jews, we need to keep our Jewish faith and culture in order to pass it on to the next generation. In keeping our faith, we will not give Hitler these posthumous victories and show that we are a strong people who can survive through everything. I personally feel responsible to follow Fackenheim’s quote and preserve my own Jewish faith as I continue into adulthood. To accomplish this, I plan to remain Jewish for the rest of my life and raise my children Jewish, teaching them the same values I have learned in my life.

I feel that Fackenheim is completely correct in his statement. The need to preserve Judaism has always been pertinent, if not even more in modern times. I have no problem with assimilation (I am an extremely liberal reform Jew), but many people are straying farther and farther from traditional Judaism, and some could say that this is a problem. I think preserving Judaism – both in faith and in culture – is one of the most important issues for modern Jews, up there with the conflict in the Middle East. We must continue to be Jewish in any way possible, to survive as a Jewish people, or, like Fackenheim says, the Jewish people will perish. Again returning to Fackenheim’s quote, in a post-Holocaust world, Jews need to prove that we are strong. We need to uphold the Jewish faith and its vibrant culture to show everyone that we are stronger than Hitler’s armies and the lasting impact of the Holocaust. Through preserving our faith and culture, we can accomplish this.

Poland (24)In theory, this idea is simple; in practice, however, it takes conscious decisions to uphold these values. I personally plan on remaining Jewish and following this quote in order to preserve Judaism. I will remain Jewish for my entire life in both faith and cultural values. I will hopefully lead a meaningful Jewish life, following the commandments I find meaningful. I hope to celebrate the holidays with my family and attend high holiday services. Most importantly, I want to teach my children the Jewish values taught by the Torah in order to pass down the faith to the next generation. This is how the Jews will remain a people, and this is how Hitler will not gain any posthumous victories.

Before traveling to Poland I don’t think I felt this strongly about this issue. Sure, I knew that the Jewish people needed to remain strong, and I knew that I wanted to remain Jewish. But now I have a reachable goal, a reason for my Judaism. I believe Fackenheim could not have been more right in his reasoning, and I think all Jews should think about this issue.

Originally posted on Eli’s Blog, Eli’s Trip to Israel.

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