An introduction to the Book Club Discussion: Memory, Faith, and Healing after the Holocaust, held on 9 November 2014 for children of holocaust survivors.
It is a great honor to put A Damaged Mirror: A story of memory and redemption before this particular community–Second and Third Generations of survivors. This book is a confession, and you are the listeners that Ovadya, who lived these experiences, most yearned for. As he once put it, “You are the children that we didn’t live to see.”
It is a confession of what one man did to survive, and where it brought him in the end. It is a cry for forgiveness, but also a warning never to forget and never to become complacent. It can’t happen to us? It did. We would never do such things? We did.
I also have to apologize in advance for things that may be triggered by the reading. This book is about memory—about how it was formed by experience, and how it was obliterated by that same experience. Ovadya takes us back into the experience of Birkenau and into the mind of one who has forgotten his childhood. He tells the things your parents couldn’t or wouldn’t tell, perhaps what they would not want you to ever know–the experiences, the despair…. And the sources of guilt that have been passed down to you by those who were innocent of wrongdoing.
These are things that no one should have to hear, and yet we must tell them and know that we have been heard.
But in the end, this book is about hope. It is about how far we may go to reclaim our humanity, only to discover that we never lost it. It is a journey of a soul in search of an answer to the silence of God, who learns to hear God’s voice in unlikely places. It is a story of the reclamation of memory from oblivion.
It is fitting that we’ll be summing up the reading on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, reclaiming the broken shards of memory to build a new future. You are the generation who will pass Ovadya’s memory, cleansed of despair, on to future generations. You are our witnesses.