10:00

10:00

Silence.

It begins.
The wail rises up from the earth beneath my feet to fill the spaces between us.
I stand, feel the heaviness in my throat that threatens to drag me down beneath myself.
The constant tone.
It connects us and it isolates us in our shared sorrow.
Then it fades.

Silence, again. Emptiness.
Something clicks, beeps and the world comes rushing back.
We sit again.
Somewhere, someone is singing, someone laughs.

10:02


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Our Holocaust and ancient spirituality

Are we forgetting our Holocaust survivors?

Are we forgetting our Holocaust survivors?

Sarah Tuttle-Singer highlighted an important issue as we approach Yom Hashoah later this week: is Israel forgetting our Holocaust survivors?

But. We forgot someone. Actually, a lot of someones.

The actual survivors who need our help.

Because during the rest of the year, during the cold winters and the blistering summers, while housing prices soar with the cost of living, one out of four Holocaust survivors lives in poverty and isolation.
Let me repeat that: One. Out. Of. Four.

Yes, a staggering — no, a SICKENING — 25 % of all Holocaust survivors in Israel are struggling to pay the rent, or buy groceries. The children of the Holocaust are in their 70’s and 80’s now…
Some are all alone.

Others are sick.

It is tragic that these survivors made it through the horrors of the Holocaust to our home land only to languish through neglect by successive governments.

I read some positive news just before I started writing this post, too. According to an article on YNet News titled “Kahlon: Half-billion shekels to go to holocaust survivors and elderly” –

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced plans on Monday to increase annual financial support for Holocaust survivors and elderly welfare recipients by a half-billion shekels in advance of the country’s Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, previous Israeli governments have not done enough on behalf of Holocaust survivors…the program is focused on pushing elderly Holocaust survivors over the poverty line,” Kahlon said during the annual Knesset event celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany. “In addition, there has not been enough done for the economically-disadvantaged elderly population—increasing their benefits was one of our conditions for entering the government.”

Let’s not forget the living as we remember the dead. Here are a few options if you want to make a contribution (feel free to share more links in the comments and I’ll add to the list):

Image credit: Pixabay

Changing the Holocaust narrative

Shira Abel shared a terrific article titled “20 Photos That Change The Holocaust Narrative” featuring photos which change the Holocaust narrative. Very much worth reading and viewing:

Victims. Helpless. Downtrodden.

That’s the narrative that’s been spread about Jews for the last 70 years since the Holocaust. We’ve embraced it to our detriment. We can’t seem to address antisemitism without running to the world and screaming that we’re being persecuted, rather than standing up strongly in defiance, aware of our own inner strength.

The Holocaust has scarred us, a yetzer hara (sneaky bastard of a voice in our heads), that keeps trying to tell us how we are defined by our past, controlled by events that happened to us, instead of using those moments as points of growth.

And, in a weird way, that’s why all those images of us looking so helpless, so gaunt, in heaps of nameless bodies, have become a morbid fascination for us. We, and by extension the rest of the world, have chosen to define the Holocaust with these images.

But there are other images. Images that show a more subtle, more true, story. A story that shows our inner power, our inner turmoil in dealing with a situation we cannot comprehend, our attempts to gain justice, and our final steps into moving above and beyond our past and into a new future.

To say the Holocaust was a tragedy is a monumental understatement but that doesn’t mean we should always remain victims and perceived as helpless. What I love about many of these photos is that they reveal the spirit of so many of the Holocaust’s survivors and their will to survive.

Will future generations forget the Holocaust?

This Thursday is Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and is a difficult day for most Jews for obvious reasons. It is another day that is going to have new significance for me because one of the consequences of the Holocaust is all around me now, our new home. What worries me are predictions that future generations will forget what happened to Jews during the Second World War and in the many attacks on our ancestors in the past.

One of the admonishments that has been passed down to each new generation since the Holocaust is that we must never forget what occurred during that terrible time. If we forget, we become complacent and we could allow another, similar tragedy to occur again. As controversial as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech in the US Congress was, this extract isn’t:

… Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel. Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, “Never Again.” And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.

But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over. We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.

The Times of Israel published an article titled “Almost half of Israelis say another Holocaust is possible” and while the world is a dangerous place for Jews living in Israel as well as outside Israel, the prospect that future generations will forget the Holocaust is scarier:

Some 46% of [Holocaust] survivors also say that future generations will not remember the Holocaust after they are gone, a spike of nine percentage points from last year’s study. A lower 31% of the general public has the same worry, while half of Israelis under 30, the study found, never knowingly met a Holocaust survivor.

We will teach our children about this dark part of our history when they are ready for it. It is an important part of their identity and a little part of our collective defense such a tragedy ever happening again. As PM Netanyahu said, “we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.”.

Never again. Never forget.


Photo credit: Prisoners in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen from Marion Doss, licensed CC BY-SA 2.0