Each time I’ve found out that I was pregnant, I was thrilled – exuberant – for both you and for me. Your last pregnancy, in the Ghetto, was filled with terror and longing. And I’ve tried to replace that with only joy and anticipation.
With each birth in the safe, clean hospital, as they’ve put the healthy baby into my arms, I’ve thought of you; of that dirty miscarriage in the Ghetto. Of those babies who were never born and who you never knew. And I’ve celebrated my children’s births for both of us.
When each baby suckled at my breast, drawing deep nourishment and contentment, I thought of those moments when you tried, so desperately, to give your starving baby a few drops from your breast.
And as I bundled each baby in his cozy crib through the years, and then his bed with the cute truck pattern, I did so thinking of those nights when you lay heaped together, too many to a room with too little heat and no blankets, in the Ghetto.
As I’ve heard my children complain of afternoon hunger and I’ve offered them a snack, I’ve thought of those empty cupboards – of the days, so many days turned to months, when you did without.
And the journey East, where there were no snacks at all to offer to the little mouths, no water to quench their thirst. And no rags or towels or blankets to catch their tears.
As I experience Pesach each year and break Matza with my family, I think of your last Pesach, in the camp, trying to figure out how to make Matza out of nothing…remembering better times years before.
And as I hiked the glorious mountains in the Golan recently with my six sturdy sons, I’ve thought of your dreams, your yearning for a land of your own. For a home where you could frolic, argue, prance, laugh, love and procreate.
A few nights ago, as I lit my Shabbat candles, my candles that represent each of the Jewish souls in my house, I thought of your soul, of your family and of your candlesticks, snatched by the Nazis when they looted and burned and desecrated.
I have done all of these things, my beautiful friend, for both of us. I can’t bring you back. I can’t bring back your parents or your children…the generations that were supposed to spring from your womb that went up with you in flames.
But my salty tears drop for each and every one of them.
And my voice sings with gratitude for the chance I have been given for the both of us.
For the six chances.
The six strong bodies, vibrant hearts, dazzling sets of eyes.
The six Jewish, Zionist souls that will take both our heritages into the future; that will multiply and multiply until they are a dizzying sea of glory.
Of our glory.
Here in Israel, in Gush Etzion, in the hills about which you only imagined, dreamed, prayed and cried.
We are here, together.
And we will remain so.
And we will remain so.
For you, and for me.