Thursday, May 05, 2005


Today we are commemorating Yom Hashoah, the Memorial Day for the victims of the Holocaust. It's an ominous day especially for those of us who have living proof in our families (my mother's parents both have numbers tattooed on their arms), sharing with us tales of both survival and suffering.
This year, though, is the 60th Anniversary of the end of the war, six decades of regeneration, healing, and re-populating. It has been more than a half century since the world ended one of the greatest atrocities in history. Today also serves as a grim reminder that our living testaments will not bear witness for much longer. There will come a time when the Holocaust will feel as distant as the Spanish Inquisition or the Pogroms. The past will become just a reportage of second hand accounts.

Shana is in Aushwitz as we speak, participating in a group of 18,000 Jews walking down the path of what was the Aushwitz death camp, from the notorious entrance to the terrifying gas chambers. I can't imagine the emotional intensity of re-enacting the march of hundreds of thousands of Jews as they experienced their last moments on Earth.
This time, though, Shana and her 18,000 friends are marching as a defiant statement that we, the Jews, will never disappear regardless.

Many people have a very hard time both digesting and understanding how the Holocaust happened but genocide and ethnic cleansing is still happening today in places around the world. Perhaps, one day, our children will ask us about the Sudan, wondering how that went on during our watch. Are we, myself included, too passive and apathetic and only recognize this unfortunate habit in hindsight? A day like this reminds me of that.

Somewhere in Poland, there is a march of the living, walking side by side, surrounded by ghosts and spirits. There's a massive group of people looking to each other for comfort, promising to never forget, whether or not there are survivors left to remind us.

But it's like my grandfather once said, it's one thing to never forget. It's another thing to always remember.

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