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For Jews, the bitter taste of slavery, blind hatred and murder was a constant companion. Even their ancestral homeland, Israel, was conquered repeatedly; their sacred temples destroyed. Repugnance, despair and darkness exist within human nature; just as love, compassion and devotion also exist there. We learn nothing about ourselves if we do not examine these vastly disparate portions of our psyche. Here, among the ashes of genocide, one can feel hope for the survival of the human spirit.
Into the gas chambers and crematoria, the Jews of the Holocaust emptied their faith and continued to worship the God of their ancestors. In their darkest moments, the Jews of Nazi concentration camps fabricated a “normal” life for their progeny. Despite their impending mortality, they created an ordinary world on the inside to protect children from raging genocide on the outside.
The ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av has come to be known as Tisha B’Av. It begins at sunset on the eighth of Av and ends at sunset on the ninth. It has come to be known as the saddest day in the Hebrew calendar. Throughout Jewish history, the ninth of Av has been recognized as a day of tragedy. Many dreadful events occurred or began on this day in history.
The terror of genocide is not necessarily an inevitable human outcome. We must learn from the mistakes of our past, rather than repeat them. As long as we teach our children about the horror of the Holocaust, there is hope that it will never happen again.
The Passover story gives us pause to reflect upon a spiritual adventure that began with Moses and ended in the promised land of Israel. The Passover story describes the Jews’ seemingly insurmountable victory over a vastly superior enemy, a tale of wandering in the wilderness and of redemption with God’s Ten Commandments, which lie at the heart of contemporary Judeo-Christian beliefs. This is the groundwork of our contemporary Western morality and the foundation of desired ethical behavior.
Into the gas chambers and crematoria of Nazi-controlled Europe, the Jews of the Holocaust emptied their faith and love, while they continued to worship the God of their ancestors.
We cannot understand humanity without comprehending its wicked flaws. Deep within the darkest recesses of brutal genocide, the reader will discover a faint flicker of light representing love, passion, desire, hope and reverence. Here is the essence of "Jacob's Courage" - an examination of morality, love and righteousness, in the midst of the dark whirlwind of malevolence.
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