Since last Thursday, my personal spiritual practice of omer counting has been, well – lazy. I went to my student pulpit in the Virgin Islands and took less and less time to sit and reflect as I counted. Yet, out of all the weeks, this one – week two – is the one in which we are supposed to focus on the characteristic of Ã¢Ã¡Ã¥Ã¸Ã¤ which literally means strength, but is extended to include stringency, particularly in regards to justice and punishing the wicked. (Those of you who caught my dvar Torah last Friday know I have issues with this as well). In any case, just as I’ve been thinking about my lack of Ã¢Ã¡Ã¥Ã¸Ã¤ in omer counting intentions, out pops three major coinciding important days:
- April 24, Armenian Genocide Day.
- 28 Nisan / April 24-25, Yom Hashoah V’hagevurah (the Memorial Day for the Holocaust and Heroism)
- The Save Darfur Rally this Sunday, April 30 in Washington, DC
There has been much space on the pages of Jewschool lately with information about #2 and #3, so I will just briefly add a few things I’ve come across:
- The date of April 24 as the memorial day for Armenian Genocide came to my attention when recently reading the book At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land. In one of the chapters, the author, Yossi Klein HaLevi, joins a group of Armenians living in the Old City of Jerusalem on this day. Notably, the Wiki entry on “Armenian Genocide” cannot be edited since there is apparent dispute about this issue.
- Aaron Dorfman, is the Director of Jewish Education at American Jewish World Service wrote an excellent piece for MyJewishLearning.com about Jewish perspectives on the responsibility to respond to genocide.
- The term “genocide” was coined by Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959), a Polish Jewish legal scholar, in 1943, from the roots genos (Greek for family, tribe or race) and -cide (Latin – occidere or cideo – to massacre). Dorfman makes reference to Lemkin in direct connection with Armenian genocide, while the Wiki entry on genocide does not mention Armenia at all.
May this week of Ã¢Ã¡Ã¥Ã¸Ã¤ be one of reflection and hope, whether you are mourning past genocides or speaking out against modern day genocide, whether you connected these events to your Zionism, or you recall them at other times.