Want to know one of the main factors driving our youth from Judaism?

Holocaust education.

With due respect to those teachers, historians and curators who have made it their life missions to preserve the memory of the victims of Nazism, studying the history of the era, speculating over the root causes and describing the effects of that terrible machinery of hatred, is just not enough. Important as they may be, these efforts should only be one plank in an all-inclusive strategy to guarantee the continued existence of our people.

I seriously doubt if the cry, "Never again," has, on its own, dissuaded even one young man or woman from assimilatingFrom my perspective I seriously doubt if the stirring cry, "Never again," has, on its own, dissuaded even one young man or woman from assimilating or marrying out. If the only message our children hear is, "Remain Jewish, because of the Holocaust," wouldn't this, if anything, propel the process of assimilation? Why would anyone wish to remain faithful to a path that as far as they have been informed has only ever led to bloodshed and sorrow?

Generally, the more Jewishly inclined the person is, the greater his focus on Judaism as a living, loving and developing way of life. Don't get me wrong, past sages and ages are not ignored. If anything, there is greater emphasis on the ideas and issues of yesteryear. However, history is viewed more as a repository from which to extract lessons for the future, than as a burial ground for antique ideas.

Because we view ourselves as only a link in the chain of tradition spanning generations, we perceive any and every occurrence, even the Holocaust, as a function of history rather than as a seminal, all-encompassing event crowding all other issues off our moral vista.

Thus the Holocaust is not so much ignored by contemporary Orthodoxy as contextualized into 4000 years of destruction and tribulation visited on our race by our enemies. The events of 1939-45 were rendered unique by the scale of atrocities witnessed, not by the fact of their occasion, nor by the knowledge that anti-Semitism exists and can strike at any time.

The Rump Roast of History

Ever noticed that kosher butchers don't sell the hindquarter cuts of meat? You can get all the brisket and rib roasts you want but nothing from the rump.

The background story of this strange prohibition is related in the Book of Genesis:

Our forefather Jacob was attacked by an angel. Every nation has a heavenly representative appointed by G‑d to protect them and argue their case in the heavenly tribunal. Though their efforts are mostly confined to the spiritual sphere, the guardian angel of Esau, Jacob's brother, made a physical appearance and attacked Jacob.

They wrestled through the night. Finally, as dawn broke, Jacob emerged victorious, though wounded with a dislocated hip.

As dawn broke, Jacob emerged victorious, though wounded with a dislocated hipEsau's angel ceded defeat, agreed to bless Jacob and his descendants, and retired from the battlefield.

The sunrays rising over the scene worked their healing balm on Jacob's injury and restored him to full health.

In commemoration of this epic struggle, the Jewish people, Jacob's descendants, avoid eating the sciatic nerve, which is connected to the hipbone and spreads throughout the rump (Genesis 32:25-33).

Interestingly, many commentators regard this prohibition not as a reaction to Jacob's injury but as a remembrance of the miraculous cure.

We Will Overcome

Our enemies and their proxies have arisen throughout history to attack us and our way of life. Their tactics have not changed, nor their evil intent.

On many occasions they have achieved short-term success in their campaign of destruction: killing many, hurting others and dislocating us all from our comfort zone.

History has shown that they never succeeded in fully carrying out their evil design, and it is an article of our faith that they will never succeed.

Surely the sun of our salvation must soon shine upon our injuries and heal us completely, restoring us to life, to health, and to happiness.

Our focus has never been on the injuries we suffered over our long and painful exile, but on living the minutes and days of our lives in such ways as to guarantee that we overcome the pain and punishment, and ultimately emerge unscathed.