The receiving of the Torah marks the official incorporation of Am Yisrael—the final step in the transition from disparate individuals with a common kinship and history into a people, bound to each other by irrevocable decree. And yet, there is some question of whether the Covenant was a voluntary agreement.
Former Sonderkommando Ovadya ben Malka discusses the nature of evil with Rabbi Ish-Shalom: Was the Holocaust really the work of psychopathic monsters or of people like you and me, whose choices led them to inhuman actions?
This year, Tu b’Shvat, the New Year for Trees, falls only a few days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Here is a poem that encompasses both.
A tribute to Zalman Gradowski and others among the Birkenau Sonderkommando who worked to get word out of what was happening in Birkenau-Auschwitz.
Ovadya ben Malka, a former member of the Birkenau Sonderkommando has approached Rabbi Ish-Shalom in search of atonement and absolution. Instead, the rabbi has told him that no atonement is possible; he must tell all that he remembers and pay his debt to the dead. In this excerpt, Ovadya finally breaches the silence that has engulfed him since Birkenau.
The re-issue of A Damaged Mirror is on its way! The book is due out this Spring under a new title: Returning! And you can help choose the cover! Head on over to the Kasva Press site and vote on the cover image you like best.
When does survival become a crime? When does choice become treason? And what must happen before we are forgiven? A survivor of the Birkenau sonderkommando gets more than he bargained for when he brings his past to a rabbi for judgment.
Even when all that defines us is stripped away, one thing remains–the ability to help others. In extending a hand to another we save ourselves as well.
Halakhah must continually be updated and revised to take into account changing circumstances, but what is important is the process by which this takes place. Beit Shammai’s “Eighteen Rulings” provides a valuable lesson.
It is a strange thing, to be a memory…. I write from a moment in my own past—from within my memories. In fact, I realize that I am my memories. I am everything that I remember up to this point in my life. I drift between the past and the future—living and dreaming and thinking in the past, but writing in my own future.