The International School for Holocaust Studies
Lesson 1 - The Fast of Gedalia
The Fast of Gedalia commemorates a murder that led to an attack on the few remaining survivors in Judea. The fast also reflects a more general sense of mourning for the Temple and stresses the ongoing nature of the destruction. Thus, the fast highlights how Jews set aside times for remembrance and commemoration through the Jewish calendar. In establishing the commemorative structure of the week, month, and year, the Jewish calendar serves as an agent of memory.
This lesson begins with a discussion of the Jewish calendar and its relation to Jewish memory and identity. The lesson also explores how the calendar was observed before the Holocaust. The lesson concludes with the Biblical prophecies of consolation, which offer a religiously based means of coping with the Holocaust. Thus says the Lord of hosts: the fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth shall become times of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts to the House of Judah; therefore love truth and peace. (Zechariah 8:19)