By Gon Erez
Next week, Saturday, January 27th, will be International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which will mark the 79th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army. It will also be 113 days since the atrocious Hamas attack on Israel, which claimed the lives of 1,145 people, in what is considered to be the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.
As we’re still counting the days, longing for the release of our remaining 136 hostages, and almost every day, another family joins the bereaved circle of IDF Fallen soldiers (190 at the time of writing these lines), one question remains unanswered: now, and 80 years ago: Where is G-d?
Many scholars, rabbis, and philosophers have dealt with this question. Some use the famous line, “G-d moves in a mysterious way,” which means that everything has a purpose in life, even if we don’t understand it, and that “It’s all for the greater good.” I’ve been struggling with this question (and answer) myself: What could possibly be good in all this evil, all the death, sorrow, pain, and agony, that we are going through as individuals and as people?
To make sense of all this, I go back 80 years ago. The Holocaust is the worst period in human history and, hence – the most horrible time in Jewish history. Yet, through the lens of time, we also know that this dark chapter in our People’s book is the one before the establishment of Israel. Hence, the ‘greater good’ could be that the (re)establishment of Israel had to be preceded by a big evil. And what about G-d? Well, amongst the horrors of that time, each survivor’s story is a true miracle, and the fact that the war ended the way it did, some also attribute to divine intervention.
While it is ‘easier’ to see the bigger picture when it comes to the Holocaust, some 80 years, and many generations after, the wounds of October 7th are still fresh and hurting, the war is still raging, Antisemitism is rising, and those who have faith, are once again asking: Where is G-d, and why did He let this happen? One must be insane to see anything good (big or small) related to this nightmare. So, what could be the explanation for this?
About the ‘good’ portion of this, it’s enough to look at the year 2023 and see how, all the way through October 6th, Israel was on the verge of a civil war. Hate was present in the streets; left and right saw each other as enemies, and it seemed like the ‘Third Temple’ destruction couldn’t be closer. It felt as if we couldn’t mend our differences without this horrendous pain, that there was no unity without tragedy. Hence, as unfortunate as it can be, this darkness has brought some light upon us.
About the divine intervention, or: Where was G-d? Every war in Israel’s history could have easily ended up much worse than it did. The War of Independence is considered a miracle as we were outgunned and outnumbered; the Yom Kippur War could have ended in annihilation if the Syrians hadn’t stopped at the foot of the Golan Heights or if the Jordanians had joined. The Second Lebanon War caught us at a time when we started reducing our Reserve forces under the wrong belief that they were no longer necessary; because of that war, we kept our reserves strong.
Regarding the October 7th attack – it has just been advertised that Hamas’s original plan was a coordinated invasion with Hezbollah from Lebanon and Iranian brigades from Syria; if that were to have happened – one can only imagine the outcome.
Overall, without a doubt, these are the most challenging and hurting times for our people. The heart shatters with every news update about another fallen soldier or a hostage being executed, but the hope remains for a better future and unity among ourselves. May the light and the good prevail.
To conclude, I’d like to share the names of all the 136 hostages still in captivity; 110 are still believed to be alive.
“I’ve never met them,
But I miss them.
I’ve never met them,
but I think of them every second.
I’ve never met them,
but they are my family.
BRING THEM HOME NOW!!!”
🎗️Daniel Peretz🎗️Idan Shtivi🎗️Hanan Yablonca🎗️Almog Sarusi🎗️Alex Danzig🎗️Romi Gonen🎗️Ofer Calderon🎗️Yoram Metzger🎗️Segev Kalfon🎗️Sasha Alexander Trupanov🎗️Lior Rudaeff🎗️Eitan Horan🎗️Yair Horan🎗️Amiram Cooper🎗️Itay Svirski🎗️Doron Steinbrecher🎗️Shlomo Mansour🎗️Gadi Moshe Mozes🎗️Avraham Munder🎗️Shiri Bibas🎗️Kfir Bibas🎗️Ariel Bibas🎗 Yarden Bibas🎗️ David Conio 🎗️ Noa Argmani🎗️ Fernando Merman🎗️ Luis Norberto Har🎗️ Alkana Bohbot🎗️ Eli Sharabi🎗️ Tzahi Idan🎗️ Carmel Gat🎗️ Almog Meir Jan🎗️ Omer Shem Tov🎗️ Omri Miran🎗️ Avitar David🎗️ Ohad Yahalomi🎗️ Elia Cohen🎗️ Nadav Popelwell🎗️ Shlomi Ziv🎗️ Itzik Elgret🎗️ Bipin Joshi🎗️ Orion Hernandez Radoux🎗️ Eden Yerushalmi🎗️ Haim Perry🎗️ Yair Yaakov🎗️ Yosef Elzianda🎗️ Yagev Buchtev🎗️ Omer Venkert🎗️ Yoseph Haim Ohana🎗️ Gali Berman🎗️ Ziv Berman🎗️ Eitan Moore🎗️ Ariel Konio🎗️ Uriel Baruch🎗️ Nimrod Cohen🎗️ Itzik Garlanter🎗️ Rom Breselvsky🎗️ Omer Nautra🎗️ Alex Lubnov🎗️ Matan Engrest🎗️ Keith Samuel Sigal🎗️ Ran Goely🎗️ Uri Danino🎗️ Eitai Chen🎗️ Liri Elbeg🎗️ Karina Arive🎗️ Naama Levy🎗️ Daniela Gilboa🎗️ Tamir Nimrodi🎗️ Idan Alexander🎗️ Maxim Harkin🎗️ Agam Berger🎗️ Ron Benjamin🎗️ Emily Tehila Damari🎗️ Stian Svanakam🎗️ Guy Gilboa Dalal🎗️ Watchera Srion🎗️ Netafong Pineta 🎗️ Mohamed Al-Atrash🎗️ Hisham A-Sayed🎗️ Avera Mengistu🎗️ Avinan Or🎗️ Hersch Goldberg Polin🎗️ Alon Ahl🎗️ Matan Zengauker🎗️ Yossi Sharabi🎗️
Gon Erez is the Director of Israel Engagement at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo.