Another International Holocaust Remembrance Day passes, and sparks of sadness simmer within, right beside small bursts of healthy resilience. In today’s advanced, abundant, somewhat free society, it seems unreal that a mere 75 years ago, a group of 7,000 Jewish prisoners experienced their first taste of freedom from Auschwitz, what they believed was their death march, where 1.1 million Jews were already murdered.
To a Jewish woman growing up in Jewish spaces, it seems common that Holocaust education is rooted in every history book, taught to the younger generations, and used as a learning tool to showcase how dangerous the mixture of blind hatred, ego, and silence can elicit a war on humanity. Not only in our Jewish history lessons, the Holocaust feels ingrained in our family trees, captured inside our bloodlines, resting in our bones. Our Jewish ancestry seems so accustomed to suffering and pain that survival remains our core mission, at the heart and soul of every Jew today, practicing or not, religious or not, in Israel or not. The Holocaust lives on in us, the Jews, whether we like it or not, because it is a massive piece of our past, because it forced us to fight for our lives, to join together, to challenge our beliefs, to keep the faith, to trust, despite a reality which pointed bleakly otherwise.
I didn’t survive the Holocaust, yet I did in some sense. I am the living, breathing proof of faith, the fortune of the future. I didn’t survive the Holocaust, yet I am the outcome, the next generation, the flourishing, the fruit. I didn’t survive the Holocaust, yet it lives on forever in my body, because it is embedded in my lineage, in traumas of historic capacity. I was not directly targeted, attacked, hated, or murdered in cold blood, yet the fear and sorrow exist inside my veins, aching deeply in my heart, triggered with every international instance of anti-Semitism, racism, or oppression today.
Today, I ask questions of my parents, about my grandparents no longer living, yet they can’t answer. They grew up in houses, silent with suffering; not the bedtime stories a parent wishes to share with their children. Yet, as we evolve and history begins to repeat itself, the truth does not lie. We must ask questions, they must share stories – if only so we know, we listen, we hear, we heal.
We must heal, so that we can move forward. We must acknowledge our history, thank the lessons of light that live within the depths of darkness, and release the suffering. We must listen, and create space in our ancestral stories to expand and evolve. We must recognize our intrinsic layers of survival mode, yet settle comfortably, safely into our skin and trust with full faith, never again.
Never again will Jews accept blind hatred. Never again will Jews sit idle in fear. Never again will Jews remain silent to injustice. In a world so big, sometimes it feels like we can no longer hear each other. Like everyone is screaming and no one is listening. Perhaps it is time, human to human, to ask the questions, share the stories, listen to the answers, and heal together, for the highest good of all. Perhaps it is time, once and for all, to invite all who relate to join, as a positive power, breaking free from our chains of the past, moving forward, knowing together, never again.