Dear Abu,

I remember when my parents took my brothers out for dinner. They wanted to eat a good fish dish, after all, we were in San Fransisco. But you and I were too tired to move. We put our pajamas on and stumbled upon on the TV until we found something we would both enjoy. We decided to give “Deal or No Deal” a chance, and we loved the game. We tried to guess which suitcase the contestant would pick next, and what amount it carried.  Soon, that show became ours. Once we got back home, I would go to your house to watch the show together.

That same trip you took me to the carousel, and I really wanted to ride one of the horses. But you sat down in a chair, and I sat right next to you, so I could enjoy the ride with you. It was our moment together, even if we spent a lot of time together either way. We used to share a room every time we traveled, and you even called me “roomie.” I loved that.

You also used to spoil me a little. You would buy me the book I had my eye on and you always shared delicious pastries with me. Remember how we used to enjoy those cream pastries in Toledo, or those profiterole in Israel? Like the gigantic profiterole we ordered for your birthday!  My cousins and I decided that you deserved an entire weekend filled with celebrations, and you were so happy then. We ate cake with every meal that weekend, and we even had a small party with our family in our apartment. I still remember your smile that day, it was so bright and filled with joy.

This was on your actual birth date. You used to say that you had two birthdays, your real one on August 14th, and January 27th. That was the day you were born again, the day you were freed from the hell that was called Auschwitz. You used to tell us your stories about the  Holocaust, always telling us the truth but keeping in mind that we were just kids learning about the atrocities mankind is capable of doing. You survived the biggest extermination camp. You got extremely hurt, physically and emotionally, but you kept loving life and you kept believing in God. You always told me to smile and be thankful for what I got. You taught me to be happy even when I can’t think of happy moments.

You got injured in a way that doctors said you wouldn’t be able to walk, and yet you used to run. Remember when we were finding our way back to our hotel and you thought we were lost? Oh, how you ran back to the street we were before! You were so strong, even during your last days. You taught me to be strong, you taught me to hold my head high and to keep going.

You made Shabbat my favorite moment of the week. You hosted the dinners every single week, and you will always make sure to have our favorite dishes. I was lucky enough to have latkes all year around. You made sure that we followed each holiday but in a way we would enjoy. You made sure we all stayed together, and that we cherish our family. How great were those Sedarim where my cousins and I used to give you nachas because we were actually reading in Hebrew and not phonetics! That made you extremely happy because that meant that we were keeping our Judaism alive and that you were going to be able to practice your Hebrew with us.

There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t miss you, Abu. I have to  remember that I can’t call you to wish you a Happy Shabbos or to tell you that I got a new article published. I can’t call you when I safely landed at my destination, or when I met a nice Jewish boy. Don’t get too excited though, no lawyers or doctors yet.

But today I miss you even more. Today it’s the day we remember the victims of the Holocaust. A day like today, you were born again. It’s said than in Judaism that one lives for 69 years, and you lived exactly 69 years after your new birth date.

I love you,

Orlyta