Thursday, April 19, 2012

Yom Hashoah 5772

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. ( paraphrase Sanhedrin 92b "R. Eliezer the son of R. Jose the Galilean said: The dead whom Ezekiel revived went up to Eretz Yisrael, 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.)

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.

Two interesting and thought provoking pieces that I read this year - worth reading -  here and here.

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:

1 comment:

Chaim S said...

Actually, I never saw the poster as being a shadow of his past, but of his future, of the success of the Jewish people. Of course, now that you've put the idea in my head, I can see that you are right about how it was intended, but it's still interesting.