Sunday, April 19, 2015

Grandma, were you in the Shoah?

So my seven-year-old grandson asked me recently.

No,” I answered him. “The Shoah ended seventy years ago.”

“Oh,” the wheels were turning in Yehuda’s mind. “So, was Uncle Gary in it?”

“No,” I repeated and explained that my brother-in-law who’d come to Israel to celebrate his seventieth birthday last summer was born in America.

“What about Opa?”

Again I was able to reply in the negative.  “Thankfully Opa and his family were able to leave Germany in time.”

“But,” his other grandmother joined the conversation. “Saba Yoel was in the Shoah. He had a wife and a daughter who were murdered. I had a sister I never knew.”

Her words intrigued our grandson but they bothered her eighteen-year-old daughter.

“Why are you telling him all this? He’s too young!”

Although I appreciated the feeling of Yehuda’s aunt I understood her mother. So quietly, in English, so my grandson wouldn’t understand, I tried to justify talking about the Shoah to a child. 

“When your mother and I grew up most survivors would not say anything about the Shoah and that wasn’t healthy.  Yes, it’s a traumatic subject but he’s already seen anti-Semitic horror.”

I didn’t need to elaborate. She knew that Yehuda was well aware that the grandfathers of his playmates next door had both been murdered in terror attacks before he was born. After he was born, when he was only three, Elad Fogel, his buddy down the block, was stabbed to death along with his parents and two of his brothers by two Arab terrorists. There’d been no way to hide that attack from him.

And the attacks continue. Just on Holocaust Remembrance Night two young Jews were rundown by an Arab driver in Jerusalem. Sholom Yochai Sherki, may HaShem avenge his blood, succumbed to his injuries Thursday morning.
Sholom Yochai Sherki, courtesy of his family, may they be comforted among the mourners of Zion 
His companion, Shira Bat Adel Ada, is fighting for her life. I didn’t know Sholom but my youngest son did and he went to the funeral. I’ve lost count of how many funerals for terror victims my children have gone to. The Arab terrorists are trying hard to finish up the Nazis’ goal but they won’t succeed.

In Israel six days following Holocaust Remembrance Day is another Remembrance Day, this one for our fallen soldiers and terror victims. A most difficult day it’s followed by a joyous celebration for Israel Independence Day. And despite boycotts and condemnation, we are here to stay. As Eliezer Ben Yisroel penned in his powerful letter to the world written in 1969, Do you think you can break us now after all we have been through? Do you really believe that after Dachau and Auschwitz we are frightened by your threats of blockades and sanctions?*

Now, in the twenty-first century, I feel calls for concessions and “peace” deals more threatening than the blockades and sanctions. When Israel gave away Yamit and the Sinai we were rewarded with a war in the north. The Oslo Peace Accords gave us the Oslo War in which thousands of Israelis civilians were murdered by PLO policemen armed with weapons supplied by us. After the Evacuation of Gush Katif Hamas rockets began hitting Tel Aviv.

When my grandson questioned me about the Shoah I could have told him that’s it’s been ongoing with short breaks here and there ever since we were slaves in Egypt. I won’t say that to him, though. Instead, I need to repeat to him the words we say every year at the Seder. In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us and the Holy One blessed be He saves us from their hands

Am Yisroel Chai! The Jewish people live! And we will continue to do so!

*to read the full letter go to In Honor of Jerusalem Day, May 7th, 2013