Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ובכל זאת שמך לא שכחתי

"Auschwitz, 1944. Not far from us, flames were leaping up from a ditch, gigantic flames. ... Around us, everyone weeping. Someone began to recite the Kaddish. I do not know if it has ever happened before, in the long history of the Jews, that people have ever recited the prayer for the dead for themselves."

It's Yom Hashoah and I just went through my album from my trip to Poland and the Ukraine.

I'm remembering my group trudging through the bitter, bitter cold wearing sweatshirts that said "ובכל זאת שמך לא שכחתי"--with all this, we have not forgotten Your name; carrying Israeli flags and singing "Hatikvah" (as if to say, "You wanted us dead, but we are very much alive--so much so that we have our own country); documenting it all with photos and journals.

I'm remembering the blue stains of the poisonous gas and the crematoria where we lit candles and the remnants of once-vibrant Jewish communities that do not exist anymore.

I'm remembering the cigarette butts on the floor of a shul that was used as a stable during the war. The many, many mass graves--some barely marked--that we stopped to sing at and the close proximity of towns to these graves.

I'm remembering so as not to forget.


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