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.
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.
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.
A sonderkommando questions the absence of God, and finds an unexpected answer.
A poem by Ovaday ben Malka on memory and our inability to flee from the past.
On March 25th 1943, Ovadya and his family arrived at Birkenau. His mother Malka and his sister Miryam were gassed on arrival. At seventeen, Ovadya had already outlived his world, though he was as yet unaware of it. His survival was to cost him dearly. On March 25th 2014, his story was officially released into the world. His promises to the dead were fulfilled and he had witnessed their fulfillment.
It is ironic, and somehow appropriate that Holocaust Remembrance Day is not commemorated in Israel. At least not on the same day as the rest of the world commemorates it. Truly, we are “a people that dwells alone.” How to commemorate Yom HaShoah is a dilemma that we still grapple with. Here, it’s personal; not a historical event to be commemorated, but a memory to be endured. There are a large number of Israelis who know first-hand “how bad it got”. And even the children and grandchildren know to some extent, just because of the the things that their parents and grandparents can’t speak of. And yet, even here, the survivors were at first afraid to speak of it for fear of not being understood. Either you were there, in which case no words are necessary, or you weren’t, in which case no words are enough.