This upcoming month marks the annual anniversary of Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Throughout the years I have tried to make an effort to do something out of the ordinary for this special day. Last year, as well as this year, I plan on attending a dinner and conversation event which is sponsored by one of the local synagogues, here in San Francisco.
There is something incredibly powerful and humbling about the evening experience of being able to deeply delve into the personal experiences and life stories of a person who lived a lifestyle during a time period none of us can imagine. Trying to understand, make sense of and even find ways to appreciate the events that took place in people's lives 60 or 70 years ago during WWII is a fascinating and incredibly interesting experience, something all Jews, and all humans, young and old, should make a priority of doing.
There are not a lot of Holocaust survivors left, as many of these people are either getting too old to remember and be able to relive and retell their stories due to a variety of health effects, or they simply are no longer living with us. My grandfather is a survivor and often times I ask myself why I did not ask him to tell me and my sister his stories more regularly, or even at all; even though it was hard, scary, emotional, incredibly difficult, and very sad to see him revisit those upsetting and horrific experiences. Unfortunately, due to Alzheimer's he is not in the position to retell these stories, even if for some whirlwind reason he felt more comfortable doing so now than he had in the previous 70 years...
This population of people are some of our richest historical heirlooms and we should continue to take advantage of the resource and privilege we have by still having them in our lives, even if we only have the opportunity to really hear and experience their stories one time a year.
Danny in SF