I want to dedicate this post to a woman who, before she passed away two years ago,
survived the Holocaust and spent the rest of her life bearing witness to the unthinkable.
Sonia Schreiber Weitz was a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, Plaszow, Mathausen, Bergen Belsen, and Auschwitz. Of her 84 family members in Poland before WWII, Sonia and her sister Blanca were the sole survivors. Through her poetry, courage, humility, and generosity Sonia taught me what love really is. Despite all of the evil she endured, she came out on the other side a teacher, a mother, a poet, and a friend. How can someone look evil in the face and still be capable of such love and warmth? It is unimaginable to me.
I had the pleasure of working with Sonia for 3 years when I was in college, and not once did I ever hear her utter a bitter word against God (surely something she would have been allowed).
Whenever Sonia was asked if she ever felt abandoned by God, her reply came without hesitation:
“I never wondered where God was, but where was man?”
I miss her deeply, especially today.
For Yom HaShoah
By Sonia Schreiber Weitz
Come, take this giant leap with me
into the other world...the other place
where language fails and imagery defies,
denies man's consciousness...and dies
upon the altar of insanity.
Come, take this giant leap with me into the other world...the other place
and trace the eclipse of humanity...
where children burned while mankind stood by,
and the universe has yet to learn why
...has yet to learn why.
Today (starting at sundown Sunday) is Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance day in Israel.
This is, in my humble opinion, one of the most special of all the Israeli holidays.
For 24 hours the mood of (it seems) the whole country shifts, and the lives of the 6 million who perished at the hands of the Nazis are honored.
At 10am this morning, a siren was sounded across the whole country; everything and everyone was still for an entire minute.
Photo from The Times of Israel
Literally. Traffic on every road came to a halt. People stopped walking, drivers stepped out of their cars, and an entire nation was united for 60 seconds of remembering why and how this country came into existence- as a place of refuge for the remaining few Jews who had escaped the grasp of death and returned to the land that the God of the Bible promised to them. Israel exists as a beacon of hope, a reminder that once, the world turned away and allowed evil to take the reins.
Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, spoke last night at the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Yad V’Shem, saying that the Holocaust is still with us. His words were a reminder to us all that the evil which extinguished 6 million souls in Nazi Europe is alive and well in the supremacist, hate-filled ideology known as radical Islam. And, as if to prove his point, those extremists launched attacks on Israel, timed to coincide with this solemn day, and showed the world the true face of Israel’s enemies.
Yesterday, Anonymous, a hacker group who lives up to its name, coordinated with Arab terror organizations around the Middle East to launch a cyber attack on Israeli businesses, banks, and government institutions. The media hyped the event as an impending catastrophe, and we in the Israeli public were advised to reset passwords, avoid online banking, and told to expect slower web speed. All in all, this ‘cyber war’ was more like a dry run for the security community here, to see how their protections and security systems would withstand such an attack. It was a blip on the radar (although I have to say I was really frustrated that it took me an hour to download an episode of ‘Californication’).
Additionally, terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched rocketsinto Israel on Sunday evening, yet another violation of the ceasefire established after the mini-war which took place last winter. There have been several rockets fired at Israel in the last 2 weeks, incrementally more each time, and chatter about another defensive operation from the Israelis has already begun. Who knows what will happen, but the rockets fired yesterday sent a clear message of disrespect, and ongoing aggression from Israel’s enemies.
I find yesterday’s attacks against Israel to be despicable, but am unwilling to waste any more time on them today- the day when the world must remember what happened 70 years ago, if we are to prevent it from happening again.
In honor of Sonia, and all those whose lives were forever marred by hate and supremacism, I say loudly: