Thursday, October 7th, the First of Cheshvan, 5782, on the Jewish calendar, should be a day of remembrance.
The Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) established 27 Nissan as Yom HaShoah VehaGevurah, “The Day of Devastation and Heroism.” But if any day deserves to be nominated as a Day of Heroism, it is October 7th.
It appears that we’ve forgotten the second part of the earlier designation, VehaGevurah, “and the Heroism.” We’ve neglected the genuinely Jewish aspect of the tragic historical event, the critical truth that Jews did fight back!
We’ve forgotten that there were proud Jews throughout Europe, men and women, boys and girls, who fought back against their German killers. They fought against the mightiest military force ever before assembled, an armed war machine which over-ran countries like Poland and France in mere weeks, which conquered nations without firing a single shot.
Our unsung fellow Jews fought, although they knew that under the German rule of “collective responsibility,” innocent civilians would be punished for their resistance. They fought alone, despite hostile local populations which would not feed, shelter or give weapons to Jewish partisans. But our Jewish brothers and sisters fought, actively and bravely, with every weapon at their disposal, in every circumstance imaginable.
There were innumerable acts of courageous resistance to the German “final solution.” But our precious and enormous History of Jewish Resistance is little known, rarely taught, seldom discussed, almost forgotten.
Resistance was manifested in many ways, from fasting on Yom Kippur – a death-penalty crime – to sabotaging production in the nazi forced labor factories, from preserving Yiddish written records of the German atrocities to demolishing the enemy’s railroad lines as armed fighters who refused to surrender.