Wednesday, April 30, 2008

יום השואה והגבורה

Tonight marks the beginning of Yom Hashoah VeHagvurah--Holocaust Remembrance Day. The literal translation is Day of [remembering] the Holocaust and the Strength. My ulpan teacher told me that in the early days of the Medina, when survivors of the Holocaust were coming to Israel en mass, the sabras had a hard time understanding them. They asked, "Why did you accept these decrees? Why didn't you fight? How could you allow this to happen to you?" It is the perennial כצאן לטבח--sheep to the slaughter--question. These pioneers who sacrificed everything and fought like warriors so the State of Israel could be established simply could not understand how six million people could be obliterated.

Eventually, I guess, people came to understand the גבורה--the strength--it took to live through the Holocaust. The large brave acts of defiance, such as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the greater strength it took to maintain a shred of humanity when indeed humanity had slipped into an abyss of evil.

And so tonight and tomorrow, we remember those who were murdered and those who survived. In a country where joy and sorrow are intertwined daily, where we have so much to be proud of and so much to shed tears over, we pause for a day and think about the survivors who defended and built this country of ours, and we thank them. And we take pride that today Israel exists, that we are strong and that Jews all over the world know they have a country waiting with open arms for their return whenever they are ready to come home.


Anonymous said...

Today 4/30 was the anniversary of my fathers liberation from Aushwitz. I always wondered how you can survive that and come to a strange country with just the shirt on your back and build a family and a business and be happy and love to sing and laugh.

Anonymous said...

Sunday was the date of my father's liberation from Mauthausen. He considers it his second birthday. I too, consider myself fortunate to have grown up with the happiest, most fun father who happens to be a survivor. How amazing is that?

Baila said...

You are both blessed to have the kind of fathers you do. CK, I will never forget when I joined your family for I's bar mitzvah trip, and we were shmoozing on Ben Yehuda, and your father said, "Today is the [I forget the number but he said it] anniversary of my liberation from the camp. If you would have told me at that time that so many years later I would be standing in Jerusalem with my children and grandchildren, celebrating my grandson's bar mitzvah, I would have laughed. But here we are."

That was a moment for me.