Something’s going on.
Don’t know why, just had that feeling. So I threw on some sweats and trudged downstairs to make the coffee, flipped on the radio. No. Nothing’s going on. Snow in the east, poor Dovid and Cham.
Slipped into the family room to check out the television news.
Ah, ha. I KNEW IT. Even though I read several Jewish-Israeli blogs last night (there are thousands of them, Jews have a lot of words), I missed it!
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.
What’s that mean?
Well, I was there, so I know. No, I wasn’t alive during World War II unless you believe that the souls of the victims of the Holocaust were recycled and those of us who were born after the war and are alive today are vessels. Which is plausible.
But I refer to being in Israel on a Holocaust Remembrance Day.
I remember that feeling when the sirens sounded throughout the country and life came to a standstill, literally, as millions of Israelis stopped whatever it was they were doing at 10 a.m. Buses stopped in the streets, cars on major highways, shoppers put down their bags, merchants stopped selling, balcony rug-shakers stopped shaking. Everyone stopped to pay respect to 6 million killed by the Nazis. That moment of silence is for remembering.
It’s a powerful, chilling.
Holidays in Israel start the night before, as does the Day of Remembrance. Last night, according to the Jerusalem Post (www.JPost.com) the Knesset, the legislative arm of the government, began its Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, "To Each a Name." Ministers and members of Knesset read names of victims.
Quotes from President Dalia Itzik’s speech:
“The Holocaust proved evil can be organized," said Itzik. "The world needs to beware, and remember that the Nazis were human beings. The atrocities were created by people. The Holocaust is an "Ot Kain", a stain on humanity."
"There are no words that can explain the horror of the Shoah. Only the testimonies, silent and spoken can attain to this atrocity," said Itzik.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reminds us:
"Sixty-two years have passed since the end of the most gruesome battles history has bared witness to. On the day of victory, the entire world danced in the streets of the capital cities. Only the Jews did not join in these celebrations, there was no reason to celebrate - a third of their people were wiped out."
"Only on the day of Israel's independence did the Jews allow themselves to celebrate. In eight days we will be celebrating Israel's Independence Day. The correlation between this Remembrance Day, and the following celebrations is direct," Olmert continued.
So that’s what Israel Independence Day will be about next week.
Does that mean that Jews are out of the woods?
According to Tel Aviv University’s Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism, anti-Semitic incidents world-wide increased 31% in 2006 from 2005. In France and Norway chief rabbis are calling on Jews not to step outside as Jews. They’re not to wear Jewish symbols.
This comes as no surprise to those of us who are outraged by threats of Holocaust denier Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to eliminate Israel.
So I read all of that this morning and took notes for you as I sipped my coffee and waited for my battery to go dead.
And I thought of a story that the daughter of a Holocaust survivor sent me. We had been corresponding and at one point I had been ruminating about the loss of my brother who drowned while away at college, whose body, born in 1950, passed on in 1970. He probably had a victim's soul in it, a soul that only needed to accomplish something that would take 20 years to accomplish.
I shared with her that sometimes I let my imagination go and when there are regrets-- it can really get out of control.
My new friend learned that I wish my parents had sent my brother to Israel to study in a seminary after high school, like modern Orthodox Jews try to do these days. Then he wouldn’t have been where he was and it wouldn’t have happened, he wouldn't have drowned at college.
She wrote me the following:
My mom tells a terrible story of her cousin who was locked up in a barracks in the final days of WWII in Auschwitz. This cousin heard that her barracks were set to be killed off. She smuggled her way out and snuck into a barrack nearby. The next day, prisoners in the new barracks were taken out and killed, my mom's cousin included. Most of the people in the original barracks survived.
Point of story? You can try to save yourself or be someplace else, but what will be will be. This story haunts my mom even now, more than 60 years later. She wishes her cousin had been someplace else, too.
Packs a punch.
What will be will be? Maybe for most things, maybe.
But we have to do what we can to be sure that atrocities like the Holocaust never happen again. What that means to each and every one of you, I don’t know. What it means to me is that I have to tell people that the Holocaust really did happen, despite what the idiot despots out there will have you believe. I know, I'm preaching to the choir.
Good morning friends. Have a good day. Stop and remember.
Copyright 2007, TherapyDoc