Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Yom Ha'Shoah

Today is Yom Ha'Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. I write this in honor of those whose lives were lost. If you go to the Yad Vashem website and click on their searchable database of Holocaust victims' names, this is the first thing you will see:

I am always struck by his simple request just to be remembered. So I write these names of my mother's family that have not yet been added to the Shoah database of names. Sadly, I have to include family members who are now nameless but who once lived, who were my mother's first cousins, but whose names we have forgotten --they perished in the Holocaust with their parents.

My mother's grandmother Minna Dienstfrey; my mother's uncle Max Dienstfrey and his wife Sophie and their child; her uncle Jacob Dienstfrey, his wife and their two children; her uncle George Shmerel. I write their names so that they will not be forgotten.

dpr adds:
i'm a goy from the white bread 'burbs, proudly an in-law in RD's family, and thankful for their gracious and loving acceptance of me. it is more emotionally challenging to be even a shirttail relative to victims of the Holocaust than it was to stumble upon graphic and textual images of that mass murder, as i did in my teenage years. i am also grateful to my own family for a childhood free of racial or ethnic animosity, and their loving acceptance of RD.

A dear friend read this poem out loud to us today:


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.


And finally, today is the first anniversary (the yahrzeit) of my step-father's Sam's passing. We say your name, Sam. We love you and miss you, and we remember you today.

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