The Tenth of Tevet: The Holocaust Memorial Day That Wasn’t

Since 1942, when Isaac Halevi Herzog—later the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi Israel—tried to arrange a day of prayer, fasting, and mourning for the Jews of Europe, rabbis have debated whether a new day should be created on the Jewish liturgical calendar to commemorate the Shoah. (This debate is explored in Jacob J. Schacter’s online course The Jewish Meaning of Memory). Several venerable authorities objected even to the establishment of Yom HaShoah, arguing instead that the extermination of European Jewry should be included with the destruction of the two Temples and other national tragedies mourned on the fast of Tisha b’Av.

Into this debate comes the Tenth of Tevet, the minor fast day that falls today, and primarily commemorates the beginning of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in the 6th century BCE. Shimshon HaKohen Nadel writes:

[I]n an attempt to reach a compromise between the secular government and religious community—and in hopes of appeasing some of the opposing rabbis—the Chief Rabbinate established the Tenth of Tevet as the “general day of kaddish,” a day for the recital of the mourner’s prayer for those whose date of their death is unknown. In addition to kaddish, they decided the day should be observed like a yahrzeit, [the anniversary of a close relative’s death].

By choosing the Tenth of Tevet—one of the four fasts established by our sages to mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple—the Chief Rabbinate chose to imbue the day with a religious character and to quiet the voices who opposed the creation of a new memorial day. During the first general day of kaddish in December of 1949, the remains of thousands of Jews from the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp near Munich were buried, together with desecrated Torah scrolls, in Jerusalem, and special prayers were recited for the martyrs.

Unfortunately [the day of kaddish] was never fully adopted outside of the [Israeli] Religious Zionist community.

Read more at Jewish Press

More about: Holocaust, Israeli Chief Rabbinate, Tenth of Tevet, Yom Hashoah


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security