To properly commemorate those communities that were destroyed al kiddush Hashem, the Rabbi Leib Geliebter Memorial Foundation/ Yizkereim, has developed an educational awareness campaign to reinforce the proper and respectful approach and to ensure that an essential tefilla, Av Harachamim, is said by all following the Yizkor service this Shavuos and during all Yomim Tovim when Yizkor is commemorated. The initiative calls for all Shuls to wait for mispallelim who have parents and traditionally leave Shul during Yizkor, to first reassemble and then to together recite the meaningful Av Harachamim tefilla with the proper kavana that this communal Yizkor deserves.
Did you know that that Av Harachamim was composed over 900 years ago? The tefilla was written after the bloody massacres of the Crusades. One of the most powerful tefillos, it commemorates the sacrifices of the kedoshim and, honors the men, women and children who preceded us and enabled our Jewish survival. Originally only recited on the Shabbos before Shavuos, it eventually became popular in Ashkenazic communities to recite it every Shabbat (except on a “festive” Shabbos when Tachanun would not be recited if it were a weekday or when there’s a special event such as BirchasHaChodesh).
During the Sefirah period – when most of the Crusader massacres actually occurred, as well as subsequent tragedies such as the Tach V’Tat Pogroms, and in recent times the destruction of Warsaw ghetto and the massacre of Hungarian Jewry – in almost all Shuls Av Harachamim is always said.
On a Yom Tov when the Yizkor service is commemorated, Av Harachamim is said after Yizkor. “Av Harachamim is a communal Yizkor – “Yizkereim Elokeinu L’tova” (HEBREW) – memorial prayer, and not a personal Yizkor,” said Dr. Joseph Geliebter, founder and director of Yizkereim. This campaign will directly benefit the entire Tzibor, those who say Yizkor as well as those who do not, and are out of Shul during the Yizkor, and may be confused whether to say Av Harachamim upon their return to Shul since often it has already been completed.
“This initiative is especially relevant now because for the generation of those who survived the Holocaust, the final moments of ne’ilah are approaching, and we their offspring and bearers of the torch of their remembrance, must ensure that the kedoshim will be remembered by future generations,” said Dr. Geliebter.
This Shavuos marks the 70th anniversary of the destruction of the Hungarian Jewish communities. By this time, almost 90 percent of Polish Jewry and most of the rest of Eastern European Jewry were already annihilated, and the deportations of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz were at their peak.
Let us join together at this auspicious time to commemorate the Kedoshim with a communal Av Harachamim recited in unison with kavana at the end of Tefilas Yizkor.
The Av Harachamim Yizkor Awareness campaign is co-sponsored by the Orthodox Union, the National Council of Young Israel, and the Israel Division of International Young Israel.
For more program information, downloadable fliers and posters, and more information on Yizkereim programs visit, www.yizkereim.org