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Re:Guarding Memory The Deliberate Act of Remembering

'Tis the season of remembering.

This week, with Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron upon us, the phrase "Never Again" rings in our ears.

In honor of this season, we would like to explore the value of memory.

Elie Wiesel argues that we remember in order to make a difference.

We listen to the stories of our past in order to bring about change and create a better future.

We are a Remembering People.

We remember significant moments like the Exodus from Egypt, receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, Hannukkah miracles, stories of hardship and success, immigration and settling in America, and unfathomable events from the past century like the Shoah and the creation of the State of Israel. Whether we were physically present or simply feel a connection, each of us has our own memories of these and other events.

Text Study | 10 minutes

To start, why is it a Jewish imperative to remember?

We each have our own associations with memory, so let's establish a baseline.

There is certainly a relationship between our personal memories and a bigger collective experience – between my story and our story. Those “butterflies that don’t exist” can both compliment and complicate the two stories.

To explore these dynamics, we have prepared two card games that will trigger recollections from the past. Often, when we retell an experience we uncover new dimensions, interpretations, and lessons.

Game | 20 minutes

So let’s play Rememory: New Sightings on Familiar Terrain and tap into your own personal Jewish memories by revisiting and possibly rediscovering the significance in moments that have shaped you.

Now, let’s turn to our shared story.

With Passover just days behind us, we know firsthand what it means to relive our collective Jewish past.

But what are other significant moments in our story?

If the Jewish People were to write an autobiography, what memories would be in it? And what edits would you make to that story to make it your own?

Game | 20 minutes

Explore these ideas through A Trip Down Memory Lane: A Collective Memory Game where you can try to match our collective memories and answer prompts along the way. Then, enhance the set with memories of your own.

THIS WEEK MARKS A POWERFUL MOMENT IN OUR COLLECTIVE STORY FROM THE MEMORIES OF THE HOLOCAUST TO THOSE OF THE FALLEN SOLDIERS IN ISRAEL.

In the spirit of Elie Wiesel, this act of remembering could help us create a better future.

Listening Exercise | 10 minutes

One powerful way to access the past is through hearing testimonies from those who lived through it.

There is another way to listen, a more subtle and impressionistic way that leaves space for the imagination.

Join me as we listen to recorded sounds from the past – from the bustle of the Eastern European Jewish community to their songs yearning for the state of Israel.

Before you press play, grab a pen and piece of paper.

What do you hear? What images does this recording bring up for you and what do you ‘remember’?

Now that you have listened and have stirred up a bunch of memories, images and emotions, consider, what change can you influence by remembering the past?

Thinking back to our sources, how can memory bring about redemption?

Set a timer for 3 minutes and without picking up your pen, write down your thoughts to the questions above.

While you are writing, click here to play Chava Alberstein’s famous rendition of Lu Yehi written during the 1973 Yom Kippur war hoping for the end of the war and a safe return for soldiers.

Focus on one idea that you wrote that you would like to remember. By writing, we are taking an active step towards imprinting your idea. Write it on this card. If you have a memorial candle, place your card next to it. If you don’t, have this take the place of your memorial candle.

And so, what have we learned through this trip down memory lane? What’s the relationship between your personal Jewish memories and those memories you inherited from our ancestors — between your story and our story? And what new insights have you discovered by spending time thinking of the past?

May the memory of the people who have come before us be a blessing for us, for the people of Israel and all the people who dwell on this earth.

Yehi ZicHRam Baruch - יהי זכרם ברוך

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