The Only Post I’ll Ever Make About Yom HaShoah
“They departed in the form of white smoke, rose easily upward, waved their hands in parting, and viewed with pity all those who remained behind. Then they danced gaily in celebration of their new freedom, before disintegrating into the air.”
― Joseph Bau, one of the Schindlerjuden, from Dear God, Have You Ever Gone Hungry?
Amelia and I watched Schindler’s List for her first time, and I realized, as Kubrick said, that this wasn’t a movie about the Holocaust; it was a movie about people who survived the Holocaust.
With that in mind, it was a good introduction into just how horrible things were. She had watched the video testimony of Leah’s two late relatives who recorded their own experiences in Poland, at Auschwitz, and either Dachau (or the march to Dachau).
It’s too easy to look at our girls and say, “see, we won, here we are,” but that’s too simple. As our rabbi said in a recent d’var, prophets have this habit of speaking to the remnant of any calamity. There was no scenario that was going to play out where Jewry was totally eradicated, thank G-d, so I struggle with looking at our meager continuity and leaping for joy.
If there were prophets before the Shoah, we didn’t hear them. My money is that there weren’t any. There was none of the cyclical “the nation sins, the nation suffers” narrative this time. There was just the irrational decision that Jews were responsible for the fiscal woes and the industrial boom of the 20th century inevitably wrought industrialized destruction on us. Smarter, more disciplined people have touched this subject than I have.
I’m also not going to turn this into a recrimination of secular Jews, or Jews who aren’t observant. What’s the point? If murderous hatred comes ’round again, just like the Nazis, they won’t sort between good and bad.
Our children are our builders. And whatever they build will be no more secure than any previous generation. They, and their kids, will face annihilation again.
There’s probably merit to our drive to turn history into an action item. For me, on Yom HaShoah, it’s only ever going to be remembrance.