My life was forever changed after learning about the Holocaust. Indelibly imprinted in my mind are the haunting images of hollowed faced and tortured souls subjected to the highest levels of cruelty. At first, I was obsessed, trying hard to fathom in some sense how people did it. No, not the Nazis and their cruelty, but the Jews. The physical, psychological and emotional torture beyond human comprehension did not seem possible for any person to endure.
What worries me most is a truth that life has forced me to come to terms with. Nothing is a sure thing. Logic, people, and even nature can deal you a wild card and there ain’t nothing you can do but play the hand you got.
I know that many believe a holocaust will never happen again. We have a country with an army. We learned how to stand up for ourselves. We will never go like sheep to the slaughter again! Somehow those words don’t still my worried thoughts. Of course, our odds of surviving attempted genocide are far greater with a country and an army on our side, but no matter how strong Israel is at the present, this teeny weeny country is still, nonetheless, vulnerable.
Hitler did not discriminate and no Jew was safe. It didn’t matter how pious or how secular one was; if one’s DNA had Jew in it they were doomed. That really frightens me. The modern world was and is capable of conducting, condoning and/or ignoring genocide. Jews weren’t safe then and I do not believe we are “safe” now.
Oddly enough, in that worry I also find comfort. I don’t know if heaven forbid there will be dark days to come or if our future is secure. I do know that I can not predict, dictate or control events enough to sway our future. All I can do I have learned from our survivors. They taught me how to live. Their stories have taught me to focus on each moment with faith and passion to press on.
We owe it to them to tell the story. They gave us something very precious. They showed us hope and endurance. They lived out G-d’s promise. It is our duty to continue.
Just as it was our ancestors who were freed from Egypt thousands of years ago, yet we are the ones who keep the story alive, so too we must tell the stories of those who perished in the Holocaust and of those who survived. Although we recline today as free people, we can still taste the bitterness of various forms of slavery that have not yet ceased to exist. We must continue to tell our children what it means to be a slave and what it means to be truly free. We have managed to live on to bear witness until now and we always will. This is our promise and our obligation.