Beginnings: I knew it was important to begin to teach the children about the Holocaust years ago. It is important because many of the things which were taking shape before WWII had seemed to be familiar to what I began to witness in America and what I read about in Europe and other places. Antisemitism I had witnessed gave me an urgency to start to introduce the difficult information about the atrocities of the murders of 11,000,000 human beings to the next generation, specifically my daughter.
She faithfully read with me, scrolled through photos, digested testimony. She wrote letters and poems and page after page of notes at different points throughout our school years, namely when remembrance dates would come around, but generally….this is a topic which is often spoken of in our home. Especially when once again Jews are being shot and tormented for being Jewish. When Israel is painted as sub human and even compared to Nazism, this is something that simply must be talked about. So we have, for years.
Until this year I had no idea that the Military Base around which we live, invited Survivors who have settled in the Tucson area to come and give their testimony. I am not the only one who was unaware that this is an event which takes place and has for a while. The day I found out was yet another milestone in our lives. You can read about this piece of the Beautiful puzzle here: https://safeguardingtheeternal.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/a-meeting-with-maria-jutasi-coleman-inspiration-upon-which-to-thrive/
I was unsure we would be able to go to that meeting but we were, my daughter was not allowed to attend at first because it is for adults and there are often speakers and guests who deserve much honor and respect, a skill which most eight year old’s are still in the process of acquiring. But, in the end my daughter was welcomed. A beautiful gift that we are very thankful for and look forward to continuing with much admiration and humility at the privilege it is to share time with a wonderful group of unique, rich and vibrant women. That honor is a beautiful piece of the puzzle. So this is how the events of this week began.
My daughter and I went to the fort to view Escape From Auschwitz, an amazing account which we had never heard. There is so much information about the Holocaust which has come out, more heroes….more horrors, when one thinks one has stomach all one can…..there is more that must be exposed, consumed, and retold. The retelling is vital, and that is why I am doing all of this. The generation of first hand eyewitnesses is slowly moving on to a better place and along with their leaving comes a new wave of Antisemitism and Holocaust denial. I spoke to someone recently who had no idea there was such a thing. But there is. They are removing the accounts of the Holocaust from books and textbooks, they are no longer teaching it in schools, and the same spirit of evil and madness which deigned to exterminate an entire race of people….the Jewish people….and all those who were disposable in their eyes is rising once more. It may be a different face, but it is the same evil. They use the terms such as “Israel is a cancer which must be wiped off the map”, you may have heard it.
I pray we are listening, because the spirits of those who weren’t able….couldn’t conceive of evil being this rampantly accepted before…..are crying to each one of us today: ” Never Again!” But it is happening again. Slowly and subtly, just like before the war. There is a side which is exposed…..a side which seem’s “Not all that bad after all.” which they want you to see. Therefore one looks “over here!” when over there…..Genocide in Rwanda, hangings, shootings, crucifixions and be-headings of Christians in Middle Eastern lands, Terror attacks on a continual basis in Israel, and Anti- Semitic murders once more in Paris.
The second film that we viewed was the most graphic I have ever seen, and I have seen many. My daughter was with me. I covered her eyes some, she looked away at others. My children know when to pay attention and when to look away. We do not watch TV in our home we once in a week watch a family friendly film but the truth is the truth and while I know that some might call me “totally out of line”, she is mature beyond her years, she assured me “it’s fine, I want to be here.”, and when the horrors of the evil on the rise come to our door (America, they are already in position, poised and ready.) she will be less shocked, so is it abuse or preparation…..you may be my judge.
The purpose of the film, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/memory-of-the-camps/, being shown the day prior to today was to make an impression on the viewers who would then attend today’s events (the Survivors who came to speak) with a real perspective of what they had to endure. The horrific things they had to witness and go through……it is easy to say “It was a total tragedy.” and forget….what the extent of the tragedy truly was. It was hard to watch the film, imagine having to be there…..five senses, and partake of the visceral experience which is the Holocaust. The film prompted Kayalynn to come home with me and set out to work on a letter which she planned to give to the speakers and a poem she worked very hard on. She wrote in pencil, then pen, we picked out stationary and made sure we had enough for each of the Seven special people who would be traveling here to revisit their pain and tell again their testimony that it remain a part of those who would in turn…..retell and pass on the pieces for the future generations to put together.
It was difficult to find our way around the Base, next year , God willing, we will plan ahead and get a map in advance. Even once on the base the kind soldiers who were directing us didn’t seem to know many of the listed rooms and buildings or where they were. Eventually we made it, to my delight and relief the room was packed with soldiers and a few civilians. We were in the room of Lily and we caught the end of her testimony as well as the question and answer period afterward. The children went up to meet her and gave her some gifts we had prepared along with the letter and poem. She hugged them, allowed us to take photos and said, “I am going to read this when I have time because I want to listen closely and I am going to frame it.” A treasure. A beautiful piece of a puzzle coming together after years of effort exerted by a young lady with a big heart.
In the main Auditorium the set up was beautifully done. The displays were excellent. The Survivors seemed to be treated very well. I offered to help next year with the promotion of the event here in town and was warmly accepted by the wonderful soldier in charge. I told her about the letters Kayalynn wrote and asked if she would be willing to give them to the Survivors for her. She asked us to wait a moment because she had something better planned. She returned and ushered us into a more private room where all the Survivors and their associates were having a lunch. We were motioned to sit and then met their liaison, she happily introduced Kayalynn to each one of them and asked if we could take photos. They all were so gentle, humble, kind, loving. It took my breath away. They all said yes for the photos and held Kayalynn.
She thanked them each personally and for some reason they seemed even more grateful to her! I wondered if my daughter would realize the fruits of her heart. The produce of her efforts and the grand design of a Great King she so willingly serves and loves. She loves what He loves, that is why she loves His people. These in particular came through the worst darkness…..yet they are willing to show love and bring light into the life of someone they must have sensed truly cared about their pain and would not keep it silent.
On top of it all I had given some materials about Israel to the wonderful soldier who made this all possible for Kayalynn and she put them all out on her display (you can not see them here but she put them out right near the memorial candles. ) I pray that will be a continual blessing to Stand With Us who work tirelessly and willingly to educate people about Israel and our applicable responsibility as to how to Stand with Her. http://www.standwithus.com/
A beautiful puzzle has at least in part come together in my mind. I believe the Lord put some people together today who will in some small way be inextricably bound by the impressions which were made. Additionally, because there were many who had truly desired to join us today and to be there…..but could not due to many reasons, there is now a connection which has been made which, God willing, will enable us to visit the Survivors in Tucson and set up engagements to teach our children as a group, at their specified levels and capability’s of absorption. Think about it! Was something really missed out on here…..or, was this just another piece in a beautiful puzzle still undone which offers the privilege for personalized attention, a meaningful interaction and long….long lasting ramifications which can continue on with the repetition of these testimonies by our children.
A bigger puzzle started long ago….which has left many many people asking why? for what purpose? and where was God? Where is God? I see Him in this. I felt Him today. It is so much more than a shame and monstrosity that humanity came to the point in History where a Holocaust was even possible…..but today, we will not forget, tomorrow we will recall, and in the future….it will be up to our children. If they are unprepared we will only have ourselves to blame. A part of preparation is to look closely at the entirety of the History and series of events which came before. These precious people’s lives, their words, even the expression in their eyes…..are living, breathing, enduring and prized pieces of a beautiful puzzle which we will not see completed until the opportunities of the past which were missed and ignored and unidentified are redeemed by a generation where this type of hatred and violence will have no place. It is not the world we live in today. But we still have a great hope…..
it is our children, it is tomorrow.
Thank you Bradley, for all your historical knowledge an explaining things to me. Thank you for allowing me to teach the children and for entrusting me with the judgment of what is proper in their physical, educational and spiritual diet. Thank you Kathlyn for making that day with the Jewish women possible. Thank you for today and taking care of things while we were inside, Thank you Gail for making today a possibility we had not expected.
Baruch Attah ADONAI, Eloheinu Melech haOlam, Blessed are You Lord, our God, King of the Universe….
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu
v’Elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu, Elohei
Avraham, Elohei Yitzchak v’Elohei Yaakov,
Elohei Sarah, Elohei Rivkah, Elohei
Rachel v’Elohei Leah. Ha-El hagadol
hagibor v’hanora, El elyon, gomeil
chasadim tovim, v’koneih hakol, v’zocheir
chasdei avot v’imahot, umeivi g’ulah
liv’nei v’neihem l’maan sh’mo b’ahavah.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God,
God of our fathers and mothers,
God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,
God of Sarah, God of Rebecca, God of Rachel, and God of Leah,
the great, mighty and awesome God, transcendent God
who bestows lovingkindness, creates everything out of love,
remembers the love of our fathers and mothers,
and brings redemption to their children’s children for the sake of the Divine Name.