Never forget, despite the pain of remembering
Recently, I watched the award-winning movie, The Devil’s Arithmetic.
It ís about a modern-day American girl, Hannah, who is apathetic to her Jewish roots and especially to her family’s survival from the Holocaust.
Repeatedly, Hannah brushes off her relatives who want to tell her what happened–it’s impact and significance.
At the Passover Seder, when Hannah can be seen literally rolling her eyes in indifference and maybe even disdain, she is called upon to open the door for Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the prophet), at which point she is transported back in history to 1941 Poland as her aunt (and namesake), where her family is rounded up by the Nazi’s (may their name be forever cursed) and taken in a type of blitzkrieg with their entire community to a concentration camp.
The degradation (stripped of all their possessions and clothing, head shaven, tattooed as cattle with the infamous identification numbers on their forearms, and men and women separated) and the horrors of being enslaved, starved, tortured, researched upon, violated in every way, and ultimately put to death by bullet, electric fence, vicious dogs, hanging, disease, and poison gas showers and then burnt in the crematoria ovens or buried in the mass graves.
It was heart-wrenching at one point, when the Rabbi’s son is hanged with his accomplices for trying to escape the death camp, and the Rabbi starts screaming hysterically and defiantly in ultimate faith, the praise and kingship of G-d Almighty, “Yitgadal V’yitkadash sh’mei raba” (“Glorified and sanctified be G-d’s great name”).
Ultimately, at every turn in which their fates sink lower and lower, many of the Jewish victims realize that this is the ultimate test of their faith as G-d’s children and that they must pass on what they experienced so that we never forget!
And of course, never forgetting is supposed to be just a precursor and intimately connected to ensuring the all important, “Never Again!”
However, I know myself as the child of Holocaust survivors, as much as I believe in never forgetting, I suffer as we all do from the pain of remembering.
We as a people have suffered an incredible inter-generational trauma that haunts our minds, hearts, and souls every day.
When will they come for us again? As we say at the Passover Seder, “In each and every generation, they rise up against us to destroy us.”
Now, it’s the devilish likes of Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the fanatical Iranian Mullahs, and more who seek our destruction or the next “Final Solution.”
This is where the faith of our people is continuously tested to the extreme.
We must remember and submit ourselves to G-d’s ultimate will, but at the same time the pain is sometimes too much to bear and especially for the next generation that wants to live “normally” in America or as a “Free nation in our land, The Land of Zion, Jerusalem.”
With G-d’s help, the strength of our faith, good deeds, kind words, and the courage and fortitude of the brave soldiers that protect the Jewish people, we will be able to remember, overcome the pain of not forgetting, and at the same time, go forward to the ultimate redemption where all nations will recognize that G-d reigns supreme, and a complete peace and security will be for all of us, Amen.