The idea of memory and remembrance – zachor – is integral to Judaism. In many cases, the notion of zachor often is associated with the numerous tragedies of Jewish history such as the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the expulsion from Spain in 1492, and the Holocaust. However, even Moses challenges the Jewish people to embrace the memory of the entire story of the Jews: "Remember (zakhor) the days, consider the years of ages past; ask your father, he will inform you, your elders, they will tell you (Deuteronomy 32:7)." In the Amidah, one of the focal points of Jewish liturgy, the Avot v’Imahot prayer allows for worshippers to recall their ancestors, the patriarchs and matriarchs of Judaism, while at the same time asking God to remember Jews today as God did for their ancestors.

The concept of zachor is linked to a variety of values within Judaism, including L’dor V’dor, remembering generations. In order for Judaism to remain vibrant and crucial to life today, we must remember our past story and learn from all that our ancestors experienced. In addition, we must include celebrations of life-cycle events and holidays in our recent memories. This sense of communal consciousness connects Jews near and far together and reinforces the history that all Jews share.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What is your favorite Jewish memory? 
  2. How have your Jewish memories shaped your Judaism today?
  3. What is one way that you can honor our shared history?
  4. How can you incorporate the value of zachor within the classroom?

Judaism places great importance on the transference of memory so that it may always be for a blessing.