Sunday, April 27, 2014

A New Way to Commemorate Yom HaShoah or how a Tradition Begins

Today at Lakeside Congregation's annual commemoration of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, we came together with Congregation Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Congregation to commemorate the Shoah, to learn about the Mid-Atlantic Slave Trade and celebrate both our congregations being together and having the ability to sing and pray joyously together.

We began the morning by inviting the whole congregation to light yahrzeit candles in memory of the 6 Million who perished in the Holocaust.  As  El Malai Rachamin, the traditional prayer chanted at funerals for the ascension of the souls of the 
dead, was chanted the congregation was transfixed.  We concluded with the mourners Kaddish and then Rabbi Capers Funnye spoke about the Mid Atlantic slave trade and it's relevance today.  There are similarities between these two horrific events from our combined histories.  Every year we dedicate one Sunday morning, the closest to Yom Hashoah and have a special t'filah, service.  As survivors who can speak become not just harder to find but much fewer in number we realize we must look to change this commemoration in the future and this year's solution was meaningful and appropriate for all ages.  

Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Choir
Our congregation was especially delighted to sing and rejoice in the day when the choir from Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken began their part of the program.  The Lakeside choir was also very excited to join in for some songs as well.  
Our Choir with Cong Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken
From Hine Mah Tov to Mah Tovu they songs were familiar and different at the same time.  The combined congregations were on their feet and clapping as we sang Go Down Moses.  The congregation clapped, sang, danced and had such a joyful morning.  I can't wait to talk with my students next week and ask what they learned and took away from this t'filah.  I know that it will be something they will remember and I hope that this is the continuation of a tradition with Congregation Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken.