As the siren is about to ring across Israel signaling our two minutes of silence to remember the Holocaust, I am thinking about six things.
And my answer isn’t just one that shows six healthy, growing boys who have defied Hitler’s decree to kill us all.
It goes a step further than that. My answer includes six healthy, growing boys who will someday be part of the Israeli army. An army created out of the ashes of the Holocaust so that such a tragedy can never, ever happen again.
I believe that I’ve told this story before, but it’s heavy in my thoughts today. In 1997, Josh and I backpacked through Europe. We went to Auschwitz and Birkenau as part of the trip.
Certainly, there were many, many experiences that we had that had an impact on me. The most important one, however, was as we entered the gates of Auschwitz. I was holding myself together and doing relatively well, until we saw a large group of kids draped in Israeli flags. I came unhinged. Josh asked me if I needed to leave. No, I was able to convey by shaking my head. And then I just pointed and let the sobs rack my body.
It was an image that I will never forget. “We are here,” these young children were saying to Hitler. “We are wearing the flag of our people, of our nation, as we walk on the soil where you tried to destroy us.
And we’ll come back each year to show you that we’re still here.”
I knew then that Israel was the place to be; we hadn’t made Aliyah yet. I didn’t know that someday my children would be those children – but I knew that the image before me was RIGHT.
There are so many things that are confusing in the world, that don’t make sense, that don’t have explanations. When the kids ask questions about the Holocaust, we can’t answer their questions about why it happened, where God was, and so on.
We can however, point to their chests and say “You. You are the answer. And as long as you continue living here, fighting for this country with your body and soul and breathing the air of Eretz Yisrael, you will continue being the answer.”
“And someday, you will put on that army uniform and be even more of the answer…and maybe, just maybe, you’ll take a trip to Auschwitz draped in an Israeli flag.”
Does it bring back the six million Jews murdered for the crime of being Jewish? Of course not. But with our eyes to the future, it’s the best damn answer there is.