Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —
Shalom again to Holocaust Memorial and Remembrance Day (Yom h’Shoar). Welcome, Lord of all comfort and Truth into this day. Invade the hearts of those whose hearts have been so damaged by the unimaginable and yet still hope against hope that there is Truth, Hope and justice. May we who have seen The Face of Truth, Hope and Justice bring your Light into this darkening world.
Yes, it has been Yom h’shoar (Day of Holocaust literally but called the Remembrance day for the martyrs of the Holocaust, or just Holocaust Memorial day) once again, with its full shock of entry and time of deep reflection.
How does one begin to grieve or share the grief of 6,000,000,000…six million?
One at a time.
Our Knesset holds a ceremony: “Unto every person there is a name.” It goes like this: (a quote from the Jerusalem Post) —
“Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel and her daughters lit a candle in her mother’s name, and in memory of her relatives killed in the Jado concentration camp in Libya, where 2,600 Jews were sent, 562 of whom died. Gamliel’s great-grandfather, Shia Bracha, was sent to the camp from Tripoli, and was killed while trying to escape, and her grandparents lost a daughter from malnutrition in Jado.
“Modern Israel owes part of its establishment to the heroes who underwent the hell of the Holocaust and rose from it to fight for Israel’s independence, thus ensuring the continuation of future generations in Israel,” Gamliel said. “The recognition in recent years of Holocaust survivors and victims of the Nazi regime in Arab countries is for me, as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor from Libya, is the closing of a circle and does justice to a large group in Israel that did not receive the recognition it deserves.”
Others who lit candles were Holocaust survivors Esther Meron, Avraham Ivanir, Fruma Galant, mother of Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant, and Svetlana Sorokin, mother of MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union), as well as Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets Director-General Dr. Yisrael Peleg.
Next, MK Yaakov Margi (Shas) read from Psalms, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yaakov Yosef said Kaddish and an IDF cantor chanted the El Maleh Rachamim prayer.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein began the name-reading by reading the names of children who perished in the Sharogorod Ghetto in Transnistria, where his grandparents and mother survived the Holocaust.
President Reuven Rivlin read the names of soldiers killed in the War of Independence who were the last surviving members of their families, as well as the names of their relatives who were murdered by the Nazis. His wife, Nechama Rivlin, read names of relatives, and had to stop in the middle to compose herself, as she was crying.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept his annual tradition of reading a poem his father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, wrote in 1941 in Israel, when he lost touch with his family in Europe and did not know what happened to them. They all perished in the Holocaust.
Supreme Court President Miriam Naor said she and her cousins did research to find out names and details about relatives who were killed in the Holocaust…” AND SO ON IT GOES.
Poignant. Emotional. Indescribable. These are the words that come to me as I seek to describe the day that I have sought to describe for 21 years now. At 10:00 am the eerie wail of the siren sounded throughout the country for two minutes while a nation stood silent and at attention, agreeing to share a mantle of grief far too heavy to be borne alone on the shoulders of tattooed old people.
For one day in the year they open the coffin of a closet where the dark memories lie hidden and share the unimaginable openly, in schools, on television and in ceremonies or homes, so that we can all carry it together with them. We listen to their stories, sit and have tea with them, weep with them and hug them. The stories are collected, written, and dramatized. “They must never forget!” they cry. ‘The world must never never forget!’ they yell collectively, but their voices grow ever weaker.
It has been 70 years now since the Holocaust. Many of them have lived this long because they have a burning passion to “Having survived −survive!” But they are dying because they are, after all, just flesh and blood.
A new and hopeful thing has cropped up. It is called Zikeron b’salon or literally “Memory in the livingroom.” I was listening to a report about it. They said that several years ago some young people were speaking of a need they had to find further expression concerning the Holocaust. Children here learn about it in school from pre-school and the studies continue through the army and university.
During the last year in high school they participate in “The March of the Living” − a trip to Auschwitz death camp. Suddenly they are post army and university and it all comes to an end. A small group of young adults decided to meet in the livingroom, hear a testimony in person or on a tape, and to hold their own discussion and ceremony. It caught on with young people all over the country and this year there were hundreds of such meetings.
Yes, it is taken personally. Life from the dead…hope from ashes.
Last week one of our patients died. Ada Steinberg was 96 and lived with a helper. Originally from Russia, she had never married, made aliyah alone as a teenager, became a professor and had many friends, but she outlived them all. That was a chilling thought to me when she told me that her last friend died. She was now all alone but she went on and became very close to her helper.
She died quietly in her sleep last week and I asked my boss who would sit shiva for her (mourn her in the Jewish tradition). He stopped and said, “I don’t know.”
That wasn’t like my boss. He knows ALL of these things! “Was she in the shoah?” I asked him. To my surprise, he didn’t know that either. It took me quite awhile searching online to find anything about her but finally, on the Yad V’Shem website, (take a look) www.yadvashem.org/ among the recorded testimonies, I found hers. It is in Hebrew and so it will take me awhile to listen, but I intend to. She had a name. She was brave.
I was raised with the Holocaust. Today I found myself wondering how it had colored’ my world. I guess I will never know really. I was very small, perhaps two, when I first became aware of the Holocaust. I had very thick curly dark hair and I was with my Mother. It was summer. I remember the dress that I was wearing. A woman stopped to talk to my mother and she reached out and put her fingers in my hair and began running them through lovingly, but even then at that young age I knew something wasn’t right. I remember her getting down on her knees and looking at me and saying over and over, “I had a little girl like you once, yes, I had a little girl just like you…”
My Mother sheltered me behind herself and I was holding on to her knees. But that was only my first encounter. Holocaust survivors began pouring into our neighborhood in NY, USA and there was a scary feeling about them…something of death held on to them and it haunted me. In our apartment there were books and photos of the newly liberated camps. I would lay on the floor and look at the pictures and wonder.
My conclusion then was: “We must be such an awful people to be so deeply hated.”
HOW THANKFUL I AM THAT THE ONE WHO WAS DISPISED AND REJECTED PURSUED ME AND SAVED ME OUT OF THE HELL THAT I FOUND MYSELF TRAPPED IN!
So I stood outside of work at 10:00 a.m. this morning when the siren pierced the air and prayed for Kala Zeltzer, Yaakov and Ruth Lork and the other survivors that I know by name − for them to be comforted face to Face by The One Who is truly able to understand and bare even their grief and lead them safely home.
God bless you all. Lovingly,
your sister J