Yom Kippur Yizkor-5765 Rabbi Moshe P. Weisblum September 25, 2004
In the holy city of Jerusalem in Israel, at the very entrance you see a very large monument. Inscribed in this monument, in Hebrew, is the word--Yizkor, or remember. An antonym for the world to "Remember" is Lishkoach, which means to forget. The period of time which we are about to enter is the period set aside to remember our pasts, our history and our traditions. It is our duty is not to forget!
The world has changed in these last decades. Terrorism is rampant. We are touched everyday with stories all the way from Iran to the Palestinian Authority, from Bin Laden to Al Qaeda from Hamas to Hezbollah. These organizations have one goal: to cause forgetting. In all these terrorists attacks from 9/11, through Sadam Hussein and the atrocities in Iraq, to the attacks in Israel, in Belgium, in Turkey, in Russia—the goal of these murderers is for the world, particularly, the United States to forget--. What do they want the civilized world to forget? They want us to forget the value of freedom, to forget the value of democracy, the value of freedom of free speech and equal rights, the value of the rights for women and the value of the right to vote. All of these values that form the foundation for decency and freedom in the Western world, are what they want us to forget.
The world of the terrorists is a world of dictatorship, slavery and of evil ruling….not of freedom or peace. Our duty is to not forget, but to always remember where we came from and what values shape who we are. In Israel, the Palestinians want the Jews to forget the value of the Bible and of the land. These are values that Israelis share with Americans. Americans believe in the Bible, the Holy Land, and they believe in God’s promises to the Jewish people. Our response to this challenge is the service which we are about to enter—Yizkor—to remember our ancestors, our forefathers, our values, our Torah, our roots, our heritage and our traditions.
There is a story about Napoleon. He entered a synagogue on the 9th of Av, which is a Fasting Day. That synagogue was in North Israel in the city of Tiberius. He was startled by what he saw: before him he saw all the Jews sitting on the floor, weeping. He asked them, "Why are you sitting on the floor crying?" And they answered, "Because our Temple was destroyed." And he said, "When did it happen?" And they responded, "A thousand years ago." He stated, "Nations that remember their history have a future." This is a famous quote defines a nation that has a chance to survive, as a nation that believes and remembers and follows their history. Only such nations will definitely have a future and will have a foundation to survive challenges.
We at Kneseth Israel, before this Yizkor service, will remember the ancestors of this community, from Admiral Kinsberger, to Allen Reiter from Rabbi Rosenblatt, and Rev. Hemmer. When we walk in the hallway, we see a little part of our history. We need to remember these people and honor their memories and the work. We are blessed to have Rebbetzen Rosenblatt here with us this Yom Kippur, and we are blessed to have some here whose membership has lasted for many generations. We are blessed to have many new members this year. But we should never forget where we came from. As Americans, we should cherish the freedoms and the values of our country and as Jews we shall follow the Bible, the heritage and the belief in the future of Israel.
Remember our history, not just the dark periods, but even in our time. In synagogues around the world, especially in Europe, from France to Turkey, Austria, to Belgium, you now need to pass through a metal detector in order to enter. We have police around here, but we are still blessed that here in Annapolis, we do not need to go through a metal detector. Remember our relatives and friends, some of them died untimely deaths. Each one of you here, together, is a part of this Yizkor, each one of us belongs here. Yizkor reminds us to live in an attitude that blesses God every day, because each day we shall ask, if God forbid, if it is our last day. Remember so many untimely deaths, especially young children, remember soldiers who lost their lives in the war. Yizkor-- to remember and not to forget.
At this time of Yizkor we shall make a sincere commitment by following the footsteps of our ancestors, being sensitive to other people’s feelings, cherishing their values and praying for a better future. May G-d grant us this year, 5765, a year of peace and good health. Amen.