Yom HaShoah: The Only Way To Achieve “Never Again”

I spent much of my childhood wishing that I had Holocaust survivors in my family. Now before you completely judge me for having such an insane wish, hear me out. I was raised to be a proud Jew, but did not have much of a foundation for that pride. Our minimal observance occurred only when it was convenient to observe, and despite going to Hebrew school and having a bat mitzvah, I knew next to nothing about Judaism. So a large part of my Jewish identity stemmed from Holocaust awareness and a connection to the State of Israel.

Some of my friends and classmates had survivors in their family. Others had relatives who lived in Israel. The “lucky” ones had both. I had neither, and frankly, it made me feel like less of a Jew at times. Every year at the Holocaust Awareness assembly in my public school, the kids who were the grandchildren of survivors got to go up on stage and be part of the presentation. There weren’t too many Jews in my grade – never more than a handful – and not getting to be a part of the assembly made me feel like it wasn’t my history as much as it was the theirs, and I longed to be a part of the collective Jewish experience.

By the time I was a teenager, the Holocaust was a serious reason to doubt God’s existence. I had never been given any reasons to believe in God, but how could I not doubt the existence of a God who let such atrocities happen to His people? It was only after I discovered Torah learning and observant living, later in my teens, that I began to understand that it’s possible for a loving God to allow awful things happen in the world. If God is truly God, then His ways, by definition, will always be beyond our comprehension.

Though I would never judge a survivor for losing faith (having never endured the Holocaust myself), as an adult, I’ve come to see that emunah (faith) exists in large part due to choice. And it’s the people who lived through the hell of the Holocaust (and other hardships), yet cling to their faith, that inspire me most. Choosing faith is all I can do to stay sane in such an insane world and raise children in it. Trusting in God, whose plan may not always make sense to me, is the only way I can make sense out of so much pain.

On Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day – we say “Never Again.” But those words, in light of the last two thousand years of Jewish history, which began with the murder of a million Jews at the destruction of the Second Temple (see chart below for the rest), are pretty empty. Though most of Jews feel quite secure in the world today, if history repeats itself, which history often does, it’s not “Never Again” but rather, “When?” Nobody wants to think about this, especially on a day like Yom HaShoah, but I believe that our sense of security is false.

As a person who puts herself out there publicly as a Jew, I can tell you that there is plenty of anti-Semitism still left in the world. Every day or two, I get a message or comment on one of Jew in the City’s many social media platforms, from a person somewhere out there, who wants to let me know that he or she is waiting for the next Auschwitz. That Hitler’s work must still be finished.

But since I’m a person of faith, I live with hope. And I believe that  “Never Again” is possible – just not in the current state of the world. History will only stop repeating itself when we change the course of history by finally getting ourselves out of galus (exile). The formula for ending our galus is clear. We must each improve ourselves and return to Jewish tradition.

It’s ironic, that events like the Holocaust cause so many to lose faith and break with observance when the best chance we have to avoid a future Holocaust is to do just the opposite, but that is one of the many challenges we face. I won’t deny that the Utopian world (yamos hamoshiach) that Jewish tradition speaks of is hard to imagine, even for a religious person like me. Believing in world peace and the universal recognition of God seems to defy reason. But, then again, so does the chart below: that our people could be so hated and pursued in every generation, yet could have survived it all without there being a larger Purpose.

Confronted with two different types of illogical situations, I choose to believe in the one that’s in accordance with my tradition and I choose to live as a Jew and pass our beautiful heritage onto my children. Because if the new reality that I hope and pray for doesn’t ever come about, then chances are that either I, my children or my children’s children could one day die as Jews. So in the meantime, we will keep on living proudly (but this time with a foundation of knowledge, observance, and faith)  as Jews.

(Source: P.E. Grosser & E.G. Halperin, Anti-Semitism: Causes and Effects, New York: Philosophical Library, 1978)

DATE PLACE EVENT

250 C.E.
      Canhage Expulsion
224 C.E. Italy Forced Conversion
325 C.E. Jerusalem Expulsion
351 C.E Persia Book Burning
357 C.E. Italy Property Confiscation
379 C.E. Milan Synagogue Burning
415 C.E. Alexandria Expulsion
418 C.E. Minorca Forced Conversion
469 C.E. Ipahan Holocaust
489 C.E. Antioch Synagogue Burning
506 C.E. Daphne Synagogue Burning
519 C.E. Ravenna Synagogue Burning
554 C.E. Diocese of Clement (France) Expulsion
561 C.E. Diocese of Uzes (France) Expulsion
582 C.E Merovingia Forced Conversion
612 C.E. Visigoth Spain Expulsion
628 C.E. Byzantium Forced Conversion
629 C.E. Merovingia Forced Conversion
633 C.E. Toledo Forced Conversion
638 C.E. Toledo Stake Burnings
642 C.E. Visigothic Empire Expulsion
653 C.E. Toledo Expulsion
681 C.E. Spain Forced Conversion
693 C.E. Toledo Jews Enslaved
722 C.E. Byzantium Judaism Outlawed
855 C.E. Italy Expulsion
876 C.E. Sens Expulsion
897 C.E. Narbonne Land Confiscation
945 C.E. Venice Ban on Sea Travel
1009 C.E. Orleans Massacre
1012 C.E. Rouen, Limoges & Rome Massacre
1012 C.E. Mayence Expulsion
1021 C.E. Rome Jews Burned Alive
1063 C.E. Spain Massacre
1095 C.E. Lorraine Massacre
1096 C.E. Northern France & Germany 1/3 of Jewish Population Massacred
1096 C.E. Hungary Massacre
1096 C.E. Ralisbon Massacre
1099 C.E. Jerusalem Jews Burned Alive
1100 C.E. Kiev Pogrom
1140 C.E. Germany Massacres
1146 C.E. Rhine Valley Massacre
1147 C.E. Wurzburg Massacre
1147 C.E. Belitz (Germany) Jews Burned Alive
1147 C.E. Carenton, Ramenu & Sully (France) Massacres
1171 C.E. Blois Stake Burnings
1181 C.E. France Expulsion
1181 C.E. England Property Confiscation
1188 C.E. London & York Mob Attacks
1190 C.E. Norfolk Jews Burned Alive
1191 C.E. Bray (France) Jews Burned Alive
1195 C.E. France Property Confiscation
1209 C.E. Beziers Massacre
1212 C.E. Spain Rioting and blood bath against the Jews of Toledo.
1215 C.E. Rome Lateran Council of Rome decrees that Jews must wear the “badge of shame” in all Christian countries. Jews are denied all public sector employment, and are burdened with extra taxes.
1215 C.E. Toulouse (France) Mass Arrests
1218 C.E. England Jews Forced to Wear Badges
1231 C.E. Rome Inquisition Established
1236 C.E. France Forced Conversion/Massacre
1239 C.E. London Massacre & Property Confiscation
1240 C.E. Austria Property confiscation. Jews either imprisoned, converted, expelled, or burned.
1240 C.E. France Talmud Confiscated
1240 C.E. England Book Burning
1240 C.E. Spain Forced Conversion
1242 C.E. Paris Talmud Burned
1244 C.E. Oxford Mob Attacks
1255 C.E. England Blood libel in Lincoln results in the burning / torture of many Jews & public hangings.
1261 C.E. Canterbury Mob Attacks
1262 C.E. London Mob Attacks
1264 C.E. London Mob Attacks
1264 C.E. Germany Council of Vienna declares that all Jews must wear a “pointed dunce cap.” Thousands murdered.
1267 C.E. Vienna Jews Forced to Wear Horned Hats
1270 C.E. Weissenberg, Magdeburg, Arnstadt, Coblenz, Singzig, and Erfurt Jews Burned Alive
1270 C.E. England The libel of the “counterfeit coins” – all Jewish men, women and children in England imprisoned. Hundreds are hung.
1276 C.E. Bavaria Expulsion
1278 C.E. Genoa (Spain) Mob Attacks
1279 C.E. Hungary & Poland The Council of Offon denies Jews the right to all civic positions. The Jews of Hungary & Poland are forced to wear the “red badge of shame.”
1283 C.E. Mayence & Bacharach Mob Attacks
1285 C.E. Munich Jews Burned Alive
1290 C.E. England King Edward I issues an edict banishing all Jews from England. Many drowned.
1291 C.E. France The Jewish refugees from England are promptly expelled from France.
1292 C.E. Italy Forced conversions & expulsion of the Italian Jewish community.
1298 C.E. Germany The libel of the “Desecrated Host” is perpetrated against the Jews of Germany. Approximately 150 Jewish communities undergo forced conversion.
1298 C.E. Franconia, Bavaria & Austria Reindfel’s Decree is propagated against the Jews of Franconia and Bavarai. Riots against these Jewish communities, as well as those in Austria, result in the massacre of 100,000 Jews over a six-month period.
1306 C.E. France Expulsion
1308 C.E. Strasbourg Jews Burned Alive
1320 C.E. Toulouse & Perpigon 120 Communities Massacred & Talmud Burned
1321 C.E. Teruel Public Executions
1328 C.E. Estella 5,000 Jews Slaughtered
1348 C.E. France & Spain Jews Burned Alive
1348 C.E. Switzerland Expulsion
1349 C.E. Worms, Strasbourg, Oppenheim, Mayence, Erfurt, Bavaria & Swabia Jews Burned Alive
1349 C.E. Heilbronn (Germany) Expulsion
1349 C.E. Hungary Expulsion
1354 C.E. Castile (Spain) 12,000 Jews Slaughtered
1368 C.E. Toledo 8,000 Jews Slaughtered
1370 C.E. Majorca., Penignon & Barcelona Mob Attack
1377 C.E. Huesca (Spain) Jews Burned Alive
1380 C.E. Paris Mob Attack
1384 C.E. Nordlingen Mass Murder
1388 C.E. Strasbourg Expulsion
1389 C.E. Prague Mass Slaughter & Book Burning
1391 C.E. Castille, Toledo, Madrid, Seville, Cordova, Cuenca & Barcelona Forced Conversions & Mass Murder
1394 C.E. Germany Expulsion
1394 C.E. France Expulsion
1399 C.E. Posen (Poland) Jews Burned Alive
1400 C.E. Prague Stake Burnings
1407 C.E. Cracow Mob Attack
1415 C.E. Rome Talmud Confiscated
1422 C.E. Austria Jews Burned Alive
1422 C.E. Austria Expulsion
1424 C.E. Fribourg & Zurich Expulsion
1426 C.E. Cologne Expulsion
1431 C.E. Southern Germany Jews Burned Alive
1432 C.E. Savory Expulsion
1438 C.E. Mainz Expulsion
1439 C.E. Augsburg Expulsion
1449 C.E. Toledo Public Torture &. Burnings
1456 C.E. Bavaria Expulsion
1453 C.E. Franconia Expulsion
1453 C.E. Breslau Expulsion
1454 C.E. Wurzburg Expulsion
1463 C.E. Cracow Mob Attack
1473 C.E. Andalusia Mob Attack
1480 C.E. Venice Jews Burned Alive
1481 C.E. Seville Stake Burnings
1484 C.E. Cuidad Real, Guadalupe, Saragossa & Teruel Jews Burned Alive
1485 C.E. Vincenza (Italy) Expulsion
1486 C.E. Toledo Jews Burned Alive
1488 C.E. Toledo Stake Burnings
1490 C.E. Toledo Public Executions
1491 C.E. Astorga Public Torture & Execution
1492 C.E. Spain Expulsion
1495 C.E. Lithuania Expulsion
1497 C.E. Portugal Expulsion
1499 C.E. Germany Expulsion
1506 C.E. Lisbon Mob Attack
1510 C.E. Berlin Public Torture & Execution
1514 C.E. Strasbourg Expulsion
1519 C.E. Regensburg Expulsion
1539 C.E. Cracow & Portugal Stake Burnings
1540 C.E. Naples Expulsion
1542 C.E. Bohemia Expulsion
1550 C.E. Genoa Expulsion
1551 C.E. Bavaria Expulsion
1555 C.E. Pesaro Expulsion
1556 C.E. Sokhachev (Poland) Public Torture & Execution
1559 C.E. Austria Expulsion
1561 C.E. Prague Expulsion
1567 C.E. Wurzburg Expulsion
1569 C.E. Papal States Expulsion
1571 C.E. Brandenburg Expulsion
1582 C.E. Netherlands Expulsion
1593 C.E. Brunswick Expulsion
1597 C.E. Cremona, Pavia & Lodi Expulsion
1614 C.E. Frankfort Expulsion
1615 C.E. Worms Expulsion
1619 C.E. Kiev Expulsion
1635 C.E. Vilna Mob Attack
1637 C.E. Cracow Public Torture & Execution
1647 C.E. Lisbon Jews Burned Alive
1648 C.E. Poland 1/3 of Jewry Slaughtered
1649 C.E. Ukraine Expulsion
1649 C.E. Hamburg Expulsion
1652 C.E. Lisbon Stake Burnings
1654 C.E. Little Russia Expulsion
1656 C.E. Lithuania Expulsion
1660 C.E. Seville Jews Burned Alive
1663 C.E Cracow Public Torture &. Execution
1664 C.E. Lemberg Mob Attack
1669 C.E. Oran (North Africa) Expulsion
1670 C.E. Vienna Expulsion
1671 C.E. Minsk Mob Attacks
1681 C.E. Vilna Mob Attacks
1682 C.E. Cracow Mob Attacks
1687 C.E. Posen Mob Attacks
1712 C.E. Sandomir Expulsion
1727 C.E. Russia Expulsion
1738 C.E. Wurtemburg Expulsion
1740 C.E. Liule Russia Expulsion
1744 C.E Bohemia Expulsion
1744 C.E. Livonia Expulsion
1745 C.E. Moravia Expulsion
1753 C.E. Kovad (Lithuania) Expulsion
1757 C.E. Kamenetz Talmud Burning
1761 C.E. Bordeaux Expulsion
1768 C.E. Kiev 3,000 Jews Slaughtered
1772 C.E. Russia Expulsion
1775 C.E. Warsaw Expulsion
1789 C.E. Alsace Expulsion
1801 C.E. Bucharest Mob Attack
1804 C.E. Russian Villages Expulsion
1808 C.E. Russian Countryside Expulsion
1815 C.E. Lubeck & Bremen Expulsion
1820 C.E. Bremes Expulsion
1843 C.E. Austria & Prussia Expulsion
1850 C.E. New York City 500 People, Led by Police, Attacked & Wrecked Jewish Synagogue
1862 C.E. Area under General Grant’s Jurisdiction in the United States Expulsion
1866 C.E Galatz (Romania) Expulsion
1871 C.E. Odena Mob Attack
1887 C.E. Slovakia Mob Attacks
1897 C.E. Kantakuzenka (Russia) Mob Attacks
1898 C.E. Rennes (France) Mob Attack
1899 C.E. Nicholayev Mob Attack
1900 C.E. Konitz (Prussia) Mob Attack
1902 C.E. Poland Widespread Pogroms
1904 C.E. Manchuria, Kiev & Volhynia Widespread Pogroms
1905 C.E. Zhitomir (Yolhynia) Mob Attacks
1919 C.E Bavaria Expulsion
1915 C.E. Georgia (U.S.A.) Leo Frank Lynched
1919 C.E. Prague Wide Spread Pogroms
1920 C.E. Munich & Breslau Mob Attacks
1922 C.E. Boston, MA Lawrence Lowell, President of Harvard, calls for Quota Restrictions on Jewish Admission
1926 C.E. Uzbekistan Pogrom
1928 C.E. Hungary Widespread Anti-Semitic Riots on University Campuses
1929 C.E. Lemberg (Poland) Mob Attacks
1930 C.E. Berlin Mob Attack
1933 C.E. Bucharest Mob Attacks
1938-45 C.E. Europe Holocaust

 

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Allison About Allison

Allison is the Founder and Director of Jew in the City. Please find her full bio here.

Comments

  1. Shkoiach! Excellent work.

  2. Wow!This is a powerful post…My husband and I have a special bond with Holocaust survivors…It’s amazing what they went through in their life and they survived…

  3. Very powerful post. I think you should have included the 1933 passing of The Nuremberg Laws in Germany. I believe it was a foreshadowing of the horrific events to follow.

  4. Thank you for sharing this astounding sad history with us. We Gentiles can also work to never forget and help protect your lives and beautiful lineage. You are a special teacher.

  5. I think its important that you write an article about the Evian Conference. Since this is truly where the Shoa began. When Hitler saw for himself that the world abandoned us it became easy for the atrocities to happen. Many people I speak with never heard of the Evian Conference and they tend to look skeptical and disbelieving when I mention it. It seems to have been lost in the annals of history. When we don’t have a clear reference of events that is where confusion and apathy begins. The world turned its back on us and allowed Germany to implement its “Final Solution”. The countries who plant nicely with us now refused to help us then. Perhaps this is something that mangy people need to see(read) with their own eyes?

  6. Andrea Grinberg (Andrea Herzog) says:

    This is amazing! We truly have to live in a way that “never again” will be never.

  7. Rochelle says:

    I’m highly impressed. Keep up your amazing work.

  8. Fashion-isha says:

    Wow this chart gave me chills…I never saw it so clearly as I see it here. We better get our acts together fast!
    xo
    Sharon

  9. Thanks for publishing the list which, alas, is only partial.

  10. Silky Pitterman says:

    I’m impressed with all the research you’ve done. I learned from this. You did forget the last auto de fe in Mexico in the 1850s.
    Thank you for your great article.

  11. queenie says:

    [sigh]. . . . “Choosing faith is all I can do to stay sane in such an insane world and raise children in it. Trusting in God, whose plan may not always make sense to me, is the only way I can make sense out of so much pain.”

    Amen.

    Thank you for your thoughtful words. I just read Habakkuk a few mornings ago – having dreamt about it the night before – and was struck that the world we live in today is much the same as it was then. Truly, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

  12. Unfortunately, the Holocaust was not exclusively on the Jews of Europe, as our fellow Jews in the Middle East and North Africa were also murdered. This is something that’s often not discussed.

  13. Dorothy Rabin says:

    We may hope, that never again another nation will initiate attack against us.
    We may also trust in God to protect us and save us.
    We should know from our history, that many people hate us (the reasoning of this hate is all wrong) , so we will have to fight again.
    The most important is to be ON ALERT, always BE PREPARED to defend ourselves if need be, and FIGHT until our aggressor- attacker is no more. NEVER , EVER TO GIVE UP.!!!! Remember guys, that we are not alone-we have Israel standing behind us. Dorothy R.

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