Yom Hashoah has always been a particularly important holiday to me. Much like Yom Kippur, our holiest religious holiday, Yom Hashoah is a time for reflection. Obviously, we reflect on the events of the Holocaust, the lost lives, the inhumanity and evil inflicted on Jews, as well as many other groups who did not fit with the Nazi “ideal”.
Often, in focusing on the mind numbing events and brutality, we forget the acts of heroism that were displayed. My father, Ronnie, posted on his Facebook page one such story that I was unaware of. Apparently, according to my dad, this particular story is “the last great secret” of the Holocaust. It’s a story about the rescue of all 50,000 Bulgarian Jews, as documented in the Michael Bar Oar’s 1998 book, “Beyond Hitler’s Grasp”.
Bulgaria is a small country. In 1943, the population was about 8 million with many minorities and very integrated communities. The feeling of community was strong and racism was virtually non-existent. At the start of that year, the pro-Nazi Bulgarian government was informed that all 50,000 Jews would be deported and sent to concentration camps in a few short months. Forty-three ruling party members of Parliament walked out in protest. Newspapers denounced what was about to happen. And the Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Krill, threatened to lie down on the railroad tracks. Finally, King Boris III forbade the deportation. Because Bulgaria was a German ally and the Nazis were stretched thin from war, they chose not to press the issue and 50,000 Bulgarian Jews were safe.
What resonates with me the most about this story is that the actions taken by Bulgarians were not particularly extraordinary. These acts certainly took courage and strength of conviction, but the acts themselves were simply individuals standing up for what they believed and pressuring their leaders to do what was ethically right, rather than politically convenient. It demonstrates that ordinary acts can lead to heroic results.
I’m not quite sure how to segue from a Holocaust survival story to some reminders about upcoming events, so I won’t even try. I’ll just jump right in…
Please sign up for our 2 big year-end events. It is critical to our synagogue that every member participates in 1 or both of these events. The uncomfortable fact that I’ve discussed in the past is that our dues do not cover our costs. So, if we do not raise enough funds at these final events of the year, we will be forced to make some difficult decisions as we move to next fiscal year.
The good news is we have 2 fantastic events coming up!
Our May 9 Poker Tourney is being held at TBA and will be a lot of fun. Food is included in the entry, beverages will be available, and the grand prize is $1500. Sign up now and spread the word!
On June 7, we’ll be celebrating love with the Shulmans. It will be a night to remember! Magicians, comedians, and musicians will provide the entertainment. The Shulmans will be honored. And TBA members will come together for one special evening…”Forever Tonight”.
I look forward to seeing you soon!