This evening we entered the Day of remembrance for the victims of the holocaust. Those are special times here in Israel, where we as a people remember. Restaurants close, the TV-channels show holocaust-movies, the schools host ceremonies etc. And the whole thing starts with a national ceremony screened live on TV just after sunset. Along with the rest of our people, we always watch it, and this year we let both of the children stay up and watch it as well.
It is always a bit of a dilemma how much to expose the children to. They are just children, and you wish they could keep on living in a reality which did not include holocaust and all that it entails. But, they are hearing about it anyway, so it may be even more scary to have it all as a big unknown. And when they will have to be exposed to those horrific realities, wouldn’t we want them to face it safely here in our home with us right here with them?
They have even started to teach about the holocaust in Israeli preschools now, and of course they learn about it in school. So we sat here, the four of us. All sets of eyes glued to the screen in front of us, as president Shimon Peres spoke, and as prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke, and most of all as the six holocaust survivors lit the torches in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered. Each of them had a touching story, so far from our own realities, but then again, so connected. The common thread was that they by a miracle had survived a killing-machine, and they ended up in Israel were they rebuilt their lives. One of them used these words to describe it: – I have a feeling that I lifted myself from the dust…
In the middle, one of the children asked: – “What is a gas chamber?”
Oh, where do you start… how do you go about even trying to explain this horrible nightmare to your little children? Which words do you choose? How do you explain it in a way that will not fill them with fear? How can you possibly go about this topic gently??
Then there are the stories of all the Jews who were collected and put into local synagogues, and then the doors were locked, and the nazis lit it on fire, and all the ones inside burned…
The ceremony ended with everyone standing and singing HaTikvah together, Israel’s national anthem. And as we stood here, the four of us, joining our voices in this song of Hope and Promise, I felt moved with emotions. The contrasts. The tragedies, and then the hope and rebuilding and life! Am Yisrael Chai! The people of Israel lives!!!
If this was just something of the past, I think it would somehow be easier to deal with. But knowing too well that history repeats itself, and seeing the signs in our days, complicates it, to say the least. Netanyahu always touches on this in his speech. He described the Europeans of the thirties like this: – It’s not that they did not see, – it is that they did not want to see… The Jews did not want to have to cope with the consequences, as in having to pick up their family, leave their home and find somewhere else to settle.
In our days we have a huge threat hanging over us from Iran. Do we see it? Or maybe we don’t want to see it??
May we all have learnt something from the past, and do the right thing this time around!