My "minhag" on the evening of Yom Hashoah is to watch the ceremony at Yad Vashem. I always find it so dignified, so Jewish, so touching and emotional. Peres spoke just beautifully. For all my friends in chutz la'aretz, this is one of those days that can only be experienced in Israel where the day fills the public space. One cannot go out to eat this evening, nor shop at the mall. They are all closed. Yom Hashoah is a national day of mourning and so it should be.
This is the incredibly evocative poster from Yad Vashem to commemorate Yom Hashoah this year:
But as I though about this image It dawned upon me that the picture is wrong.
Of course the image aims to portray a Holocaust survivor and the "shadow" as he was as a child before the war, along with his family who have perished. We witness this broken man and see the shadow of his past.
But this image is skewed; it is only half the truth. Why? Because so many survivors are not alone; they have wonderful families and accomplishments. Each of the six Holocaust survivors who lit the 6 torches at Yad Vashem tonight were accompanied by their relatives - most of them, by a grandchild. For this image to be truly representative, the Holocaust survivor should be surrounded by his descendants, the future, the tree that has grown out of the seed of a single survivor. In some cases, he will be surrounded by 2 or 3 family members, in other families it will be 10 or twenty or fifty, or more! Thank God, the "dry bones" of the worn, starved, and beaten survivors have given birth, in many instances, to beautiful families. (...to paraphrase Sanhedrin 92b "R. Eliezer the son of R. Jose the Galilean said: The dead whom Ezekiel revived went up to
married wives and begat sons and daughters. R. Judah b. Bathyra rose up and
said: I am one of their descendants, and these are the tefillin which my
grandfather left me [as an heirloom] from them." or Tehillim 107:41.) Eretz Yisrael
Alongside all the pain and suffering, we live with hope. As Netanyahu said this evening: "עם ישראל חי". The Holocaust survivors that I know: Solly Irving, Ralph Aron z"l, Leah and Yoseph Friedler of Alon Shevut, are all exemplars of this amazing reality of the renewal of our people. They, along with every survivor that I have ever met, are shining models of inspiration, courage and optimism.
I will finish by remembering the names of my mother's family who were murdered in the Shoah as we remember all the Six Million:
My grandfather's grandmother, 2 uncles, an aunt and 7 cousins:
Hinda bat Yehuda Leib
Sarah Keila bat Elimelech
Yosef ben Elimelech
Yehuda Langer (Sarah Keila’s husband)
Yehudith Fayga Alta bat Yehuda
Shifra bat Yehuda
Avraham ben Yosef
Naftali ben Yosef
Yechiel ben Yosef
Perle bat Yosef
Gittel bat Yosef
And from my father's family ( - my grand-parents fled from Germany in February 1939):
My great-grandfather Sali Israel, killed in Theresiensdadt, 23 April 1943
His 2nd wife, Bertha Goldschmidt, killed in Auschwitz, 18 May 1944
Imgard Israel (aunt)
Arthur Israel and his wife Bella, and their daughter Renate (uncle)
Hari Israel (uncle)
Raisa Garabaska (cousin)
Hugo Israel, killed in Riga Camp, 1942 (uncle)
תהיינה נפשותם צרורות בצרור החיים
הַרְנִינוּ גויִם עַמּו כִּי דַם עֲבָדָיו יִקּום וְנָקָם יָשִׁיב לְצָרָיו וְכִפֶּר אַדְמָתו עַמּו: