Bernhard Rosenberg

From one 2G to another

So many of the Holocaust survivors who I grew up with have passed away. They were all so important to me and they conveyed a special feeling that no others could. To the second and third generation I offer this comfort before the High Holidays.

I have been an orphan too long. My dad died over 30 years ago, my mother over 20. Recently I discovered that in addition to the death of most of my family in the Holocaust, I also had two half sibling. My story is similar to many of yours. I ask that G-d comfort us today as we remember parents and other love ones. For those who possess holocaust guilt I pray you will listen to me. Most of us were too young to understand the misery experienced by our parents, we could not empathize nor did most of us ask the questions we could have. We simply were afraid of hurting our parents and could not bare seeing them suffer.

I have spent a life time trying to find out what I simply could have asked them about our family. I am certain many of you are in the same boat. I beg you, your parents and mine lived for us. They sacrificed everything for us. REMEMBER the good you experienced with them. I will say Yizkor and Kaddish for those of you who can not go to a synagogue.

Love your families and your children and grandchildren. Look at them and have nachas. For those who do not have children or family, please seek friends today and give and receive love. For those who had a different experience, one filled with only joy and good memories, you are very fortunate. For those who experience pain and still do, I pray for you. G-d bless you all and may our loved ones rest in heaven. They already experienced Hell.

If you still have holocaust survivors who are alive, give them a hug and a kiss. G-d granted me a beautiful wife, 4 children and so far 9 grand children. I only wish my parents were alive to witness this nachas. I am not a psychologist but merely a 2G still struggling.

Many of you still have pain because you think you could have done more to help your parents or acted differently towards them. I learned years ago not to generalize 2Gs. It is very dangerous since some become very upset so I will only speak about myself. My personality manifests itself in my always having to be in control of every situation. When my father was dying thirty years ago I thought I could save his life by literally asking him to live for me. My parents sacrificed everything for me. He died and I still have not forgiven myself for not producing a miracle. Regarding my mother, after my father’s death I did everything possible for her; she lived with us for many years, but I still feel I could have been more understanding and patient with her. Please forgive yourselves Your parents would not want you in anguish.

About the Author
Rabbi Dr. Bernhard H. Rosenberg, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth-El, Edison, New Jersey received his ordination and doctorate of Education from Yeshiva University in New York. He also possesses A.A., B.A., M.A., and M.S. degrees in communication and education. He possesses a Doctor of Divinity from the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. He taught at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Yeshiva University in New York. His books include: “Theological and Halachic Reflections on the Holocaust,” “Contemplating the Holocaust,” “The Holocaust as Seen Through Film,” and "Echoes of the Holocaust."
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