Batya Brownstein
Batya Brownstein

You shall tell your children: The Holocaust’s legacy

In 2014, I spoke as a representative of the Israeli young generation at Yad Vashem’s 9th International Conference on Holocaust Education. I want to share part of what I said and my new insight.

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I think we have not yet truly wrapped our minds around it, the notion that someone wanted to eradicate us. They wanted us gone. The term ‘survivor’ in its traditional sense does not necessarily mean what we think it means. There are those who have experienced the Holocaust, however we were all saved. If the Germans had won the war, we would have never even been born, and if we had lived then, they would have murdered us, too…

Only once Israeli society was ready to listen, and get past the horror and disbelief could we evolve into what we are today. The Holocaust defines Jews as a nation and determines the nature of Israel as a state. I see in Holocaust study a powerful display of redemption. Our nation has come full circle. We learn about the Holocaust because we can and because we’re here to do it, and the Holocaust was meant to ensure that we wouldn’t be.

We border powers that would liquidate us today if we hadn’t learned the lesson that we are our own saviors. Even now Israel and Jews worldwide are touched by the efforts of those who would rise to our destruction. We continue to learn about all the times that people tried and failed to do exactly what Israel’s enemies would like to do today. We are the prayers of millennia incarnated.

My two-month old daughter will grow up living out the dreams and the prayers of Jews throughout the centuries. She is the human hope that survived when so many didn’t. She is the love and strength that have persisted for ages. She is what gives this day meaning.

About the Author
Born to a French mother and American father, Batya came to Israel at a young age. Upon graduating high school in Israel, she spent her military service in the IDF's Foreign Press Branch. She now studies International Relations and Political Science (B.A.) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and lives in Jerusalem with her beautiful daughter.
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