Today is Holocaust Day—my first in Israel in many years. A solemn occasion anywhere, here it settles over the country like a heavy blanket, and while daily activities do continue amidst the events, a somber mood permeates the day.
This afternoon I went over to Me’ir Park and sat on a bench across from the pond. Birds sang, crows cawed, doves cooed, dogs barked, and the late afternoon sun glinted off the trees. Kids of all ages ran around, playing, shrieking with laughter, falling down, their tears and bruises being administered to by young parents or grandparents. The activity was a nice juxtaposition to my contemplative mood.
I Googled Holocaust Day on my phone and found a book called “The Ravine,” by Wendy Lower. The book is based entirely on a photo of one family being executed at gunpoint by a group of smiling Nazis at the edge of a ravine. I started to watch a presentation about the book given by its author. Her calm and professional manner did not, nor did it intend to, diminish the impact of the photo.
About ten minutes into the video I looked up and saw a chubby, curly-haired toddler waddling toward me. She did a little dance, then put her arms around my legs, nuzzled her head on my knees, and looked up at me with a smile while her mother looked on from a distance.
I wonder how she knew.