The Jewish High Holidays are coming up–Rosh Hashanah starts next week–and so I was particularly moved by this story I read this morning in the New York Times: A Shofar that Defied the Nazis. If you haven’t read it, please do–it is so powerful and such a tribute to the strength of human spirit and will.
The endurance of the Jewish people for millennia against systematic persecution and vitriolic hatred is an amazing thing in and of itself, but to read about stories of creative, daring, and defiant expressions of faith in the unimaginable context of the Nazi death camps and concentration camps brings me to my knees. If you know where to look, you can find story after story of regular individuals who risked agonizing death and brutal punishment in order to assert their identity as Jews, even in situations that appeared quite literally godforsaken.
This year, when I hear the shofar blown at our services here at Gettysburg College, I will be reminded of communities large and small, across time and space, who have sounded the shofar—loud, sharp, and unmistakable—as an indefatigable, triumphant witness not only to God, but to the Jewish people themselves, and the continued existence of Jewish community all around the world.
There are so many lessons we still have to learn from the Holocaust, so many stories still to be told, and for me, some of the most powerful are these small acts of faith that one might say change nothing, but also could be equally said to change everything.