Thursday, May 1, 2008

Yom HaShoah

It has been Yom HaShoah today, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust.

Being a mother adds another dimension to my understanding of the Shoah. I can only imagine the anguish of a mother in 1930’s Europe, whose natural instinct is to protect her children, having to cope in such a heinous situation.

I found a moving poem on the internet which highlights the impact of the Shoah from the perspective of the children. It is a little painful to read and yet beautiful and poignant too.

Holocaust by Barbara Sonek

We played, we laughed
We were loved.
We were ripped from the arms of our parents and thrown into the fire.
We were nothing more than children.
We had a future.
We were going to be lawyers, rabbis, wives, teachers, mothers.
We had dreams, then we had no hope.
We were taken away in the dead of night like cattle in cars, no air to breathe smothering, crying, starving, dying.
Separated from the world to be no more.
From the ashes, hear our plea.
This atrocity to mankind cannot happen again.
Remember us, for we were the children whose dreams and lives were stolen away.

But for the grace of G-d go I.

Last night we watched the national ceremony which involved testimony from survivors. It narrated their harrowing stories and detailed their lives before, during and after the Holocaust. It is a testament to a strong human spirit that many of these people, damaged by their experiences in death camps and from the trauma of losing their families, still managed to find the strength and fortitude to contribute so greatly to the building of the new State of Israel.

The children stayed up a little late last night. We explained, as best we could, what the Holocaust was. We wanted them to understand that today they were able to be openly Jewish but that they should not take this for granted. We explained that people were killed for no reason other than their religion or because they were perceived to be different. We reminded them that some members of our own family had been caught up in the Shoah. We stood in silence, lit our yorkseit candle and my husband recited kaddish.

This morning the sirens sounded and there was a minute’s silence. We took a few moments to offer a silent prayer for those lost.

May their dear souls rest in peace.

Sharona B