Tuesday, April 7

Yom HaShoah + Under the Domim Tree

During World War II, the Nazis practiced genocide against the Jews, gypsies, and other 'undesirables.'  Shoah, which means “catastrophe” or “utter destruction” in Hebrew, refers to the atrocities that were committed against the Jewish people during World War II. Yom Ha'Shoah is a memorial day for those who died in the Shoah.

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a CommunistThen they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a SocialistThen they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionistThen they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a JewThen they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me~Martin Niemöller
The Shoah (also known as the Holocaust, from a Greek word meaning "sacrifice by fire,") was initiated by the members of the Nazi Party, which seized power in Germany in 1933. The Nazis believed in racial superiority, centering around the idea that people of Aryan descent were better than members of all other races – especially the Jews, who were "unworthy of life."

Jews were forced to leave their homes and move into ghettos and slave-labor camps, where disease, brutality, and malnutrition ran rampant.  Eventually, they were sent to death camps, where millions were murdered.  In addition to the six million Jews who died, the Nazis also killed millions of others, including Roma and Slavs, political and religious opponents, the disabled, and gays and lesbians.

Yom HaShoah is commemorated by lighting yellow candles to keep memories of the victims alive, along with worship, music, and stories from survivors.  Yahrzeit candles (for memorials) are also lit in the home.  Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, occurs on the 27th of the Hebrew month of Nisan.  In 2020, it will begin at sundown April 20 and end at sundown April 21.

You may also be interested in the World War II unit studies.

Younger Children 
Make / Do

  • extermination
  • remembrance
  • prosecutable
  • comity
  • diaspora
  • atrocity
  • regime
  • systematic
  • persecution
  • Palestine

  • Read this short article on the need for Yom Ha'Shoah traditions.  What tradition would you create?
  • Hitler wrote about his ideas in the book Mein Kampf.  How were his intentions so misjudged that they turned into the Holocaust?
  • The German people were told that they belonged to a super-race, which provided a sense of identity and pride.  How did that nationalism lead to a lack of tolerance and respect for others?

Pick up the Jewish Holidays in Literature Bundle!

Each of the ten unit studies in this year-long bundle centers around a book for middle school level and includes videos, cooking projects, hands-on activities, writing assignments, and more.  There are also resources for younger children in eight of the ten units (not in *).

  • Introduction to Judaism
  • Solomon and the Trees + Tu B’Shevat unit
  • The Queen of Persia + Purim unit study (sample)
  • Devil’s Arithmetic + Passover unit study
  • The Secret Shofar of Barcelona + Rosh Hashana unit study
  • The Yom Kippur Shortstop + Yom Kippur unit study
  • The Mysterious Guests + Sukkot unit study
  • All-of-a-Kind Family Hannukah + Chanukah unit study
  • Broken Strings + Fiddler on the Roof + Persecution unit study*
  • The Golem & the Jinni + Kabbalah unit*

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