Religion 101

Religion 101


Yom HaShoah 2013

posted by Reed Hall

At sunset today (Sunday, April 7), Jews worldwide will begin observing Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. A relatively recent modern addition to the Jewish calendar (having been established in 1953), this is a solemn memorial day commemorating the approximately six million Jews who fell victim to the Nazi Holocaust during World War II.

Why does Yom HaShoah begin at sunset? Judaism traditionally reckons a “day” as beginning not at 12:00 midnight, nor at dawn, but instead at sunset. Yom HaShoah will therefore technically begin at sunset this evening. It will conclude about 24 hours later, at sunset on the evening of Monday, April 8.

Yom HaShoah always begins on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan (unless that date falls immediately adjacent to the Sabbath; if so, its observance is bumped by a day). However, that fixed starting date of 27 Nisan on the Jewish religious calendar does not always coincide with April 7 on the secular Western (Gregorian) calendar.

The traditional Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, which means that it counts and calculates its lunar months somewhat differently from how the widely-used Gregorian calendar (which is a solar calendar) reckons its own months. This means that there is a certain amount of built-in “drift,” from year to year, between the two calendars.

Last year, for instance, Yom HaShoah (always 27 Nisan on the Hebrew calendar) began at sunset on April 18, 2012. Next year, by contrast, Yom HaShoah will begin at sunset on April 27, 2014.

The Hebrew word yom means “day” (as in Yom Kippur, “Day of Atonement”), and shoah is Hebrew for “calamity,” “catastrophe,” “disaster,” or “destruction.” In modern usage, that term has become almost synonymous with the Holocaust, the mass extermination of some six million Jewish men, women, and children at the hands of the Nazis.

Yom HaShoah (“Day of the Holocaust”) is thus a time of remembrance for that tragic and horrific program of genocide, which systematically slaughtered approximately two-thirds of the European Jewish population (amounting to about one-third of the total world Jewish population).

There is no standard or traditional form of greeting (that I know of) for Yom HaShoah. However, perhaps one well-known and oft-used slogan might be particularly apropos: “Never Again.”

 

 

 

 



Advertisement
Comments Post the First Comment »
post a comment

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

On Teaching About Judaism (Part Six)
Specifically Christian newcomers to the study of Judaism frequently puzzle over  why -- as they themselves often put it -- Jews "don't believe in Jesus." The reality is simply that the entire Jewish concept of who and what a Messiah actually is (or does) is just nothing like what Christians them

posted 4:45:00pm Jun. 29, 2013 | read full post »

On Teaching About Judaism (Part Five)
Aside from the several other frequent areas of confusion which sometimes puzzle newcomers to the study of Judaism (areas which I've been discussing in my last several blog entries), there is yet another hazy area that is often uniquely puzzling to specifically Christian newcomers: why, as they thems

posted 10:01:32pm Jun. 27, 2013 | read full post »

On Teaching About Judaism (Part Four)
As discussed in previous blog entries, a fairly sizable percentage of the American public seems to know surprisingly little about many of the basics of Judaism. In my own world religions courses, some students begin the semester with no real knowledge of the Jewish faith, and may even harbor some fa

posted 9:16:07pm Jun. 25, 2013 | read full post »

On Teaching About Judaism (Part Three)
As discussed in previous blog entries, a fairly sizable percentage of the American public seems to know surprisingly little about the basics of Judaism. In my own world religions courses, some students begin the semester with no real knowledge of the Jewish faith, and may even harbor some fairly com

posted 6:27:16pm Jun. 22, 2013 | read full post »

Midsummer (Litha)/Yule 2013
Tomorrow (Friday, June 21, 2013) is the date of the summer solstice within the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, by contrast, tomorrow will be the date of the winter solstice. Solstices have long been observed as important seasonal festivals in many traditional cultures. Accordingl

posted 5:05:38pm Jun. 20, 2013 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.