by Larry Gordon
That march this year was led by the Israel Defense Force top officer, General Benny Gantz. Dressed in his ceremonial military regalia he led the hundreds of those gathered in Osweicin, Poland in the silent declaration that says, “We Are Here,” and “Am Yisrael Chai.”
Next week Jews the world over will mark and celebrate Israel’s 65th anniversary. The juxtaposition of the two events makes it difficult to conjure that the creation of the modern State grew out of what poets like to refer to as—the ashes of the Holocaust. Had it been a perfect world the State of Israel would have been created a decade earlier and would have been a safe haven for European Jews to flee to as the attempted to escape the Nazi madness.
But that is Jewish life from time immemorial. It is a big divine picture that we can too frequently not discern or make sense of from our very limited human perspective. I suppose that our history would not have been that which it is had we rearranged history ever so slightly and moved the creation of the State back to 1938 instead of 1948.
These are probably one of the most stirring combinations of days on the Jewish calendar. Yom Hashoah will forever rip at our souls even though we are on the threshold of moving into a new era and the need to rise to the challenge and figure out how to immortalize this physically and emotionally debilitating national experience going forward.
We received a letter this week that is published elsewhere in this issue observing that on Sunday night while we observed Yom Hashoah and candles were lit in ceremonies in Jewish communities around the world as a memorial to the six million who died, there were also a number of weddings, bar mitzvas and other simchas being celebrated. The writer asks why it is that the somber memorial observances are not universal and that communally it is not considered forbidden to celebrate on this evening of somber remembrance.
And that is a very good point. Many of us attended observances and read in newspapers and online an overflowing number of survivor testimonies, that of the first, second and third generation. And perhaps somewhere in that statement is part of the solution to the question about how are we going to deal with the facts and reality of the Holocaust experience in the future.
Of course there was nothing that any of us can imagine that can measure up to the wanton violence and inhumanity that was perpetrated on our people during the Holocaust. To this day it is difficult to properly characterize how that experience impacted on families that would be born to and raised by survivors of those horrors.
There was pain and there was silence. There was hurt and anger and almost no two experiences could be depicted as being alike or similar to one another. Everyone was different. Some emerged with the desire and ability to share love; others simply could not find any warmth or affection anywhere within themselves.
Today, 70 years later, adult children with children and grandchildren of their own are still walking around wondering about what happened. Why and how their parents or grandparents survived and why they acted or behaved the way that they did for all those years. They still just don’t know what to think or what to say or do.