Tuesday, November 9, 2010

History on My Mind...

And one more thing...

My birthday, today, is November 9th. If you don't want history to weigh on your child's mind...don't give birth on November 9th. At some point in my early years, I learned about November 9, 1938. On that day, the future of the Holocaust could have been predicted...or perhaps it was still to early for some.

On that day, with the organized consent and authority of the duly-elected Nazi government, Nazis went through the streets of Germany  and smashed windows, beat Jews, burned synagogues and books. It was called "The Night of the Broken Glass" and for the most part, those in authority helped...or at very least did nothing to stop, those who rampaged through the streets, spreading their hatred and dreams of what was to come.

Ninety-two Jews were murdered on that night, another 25-30,000 arrested. You can search the Internet to learn more about this day, this history, this painful episode that was so much more than a single instance of anti-Semitism.

For me, the significance was in my mother telling me, probably more than once, that I was her answer to Hitler. It was a heavy message for a child and yet one I welcomed. I couldn't undo what was done years decades before my birth but I could be, for the future, an answer. That is how I have tried to live much of my life and one of many reasons why I moved to Israel and brought my children here.

Now, as I watch them wear the uniform of Israel with pride and honor, I realize that I have passed on this mantle of responsibility to them. They answer for Hitler now. They are the answer - not just in their existence to the Hitler that was, but to the Hitlers that are and will be.

Today this weighs on my mind more than most days. Where once Jews ran in terror with no one to defend them, today they know they have a homeland and a place, an army and soldiers to protect them. My sons...my precious sons give the most wonderful of answers. Don't even try it, is their message every day. Don't even think you can do today what you did then.

Both Elie and Shmulik carry the names of uncles my husband never knew because Hitler had a plan; a plan that was shown to the world on November 9, 1938. Their namesakes died long ago - one in Auschwitz and one in a forest somewhere in Europe, last seen by a cousin when he was too weak to go on. They live on, their names live on...here in Israel, with my sons.

1 comment:

gpence61 said...

Happy Birthday, Paula!! I'm just about 10 months "newer" than you :-) -- but most days I still feel 25. It comes from my family. My wife is just 37 and my kids range from 14 to 18 months old. (It took me much longer to find my soul mate.)

Kristallnacht: I read Zindel Grynszpan's account of her family's forced deportation on 27 Oct and was struck by her testimony -- "The streets were full of people shouting: ’Juden raus! Auf nach Palästina!’ ” ("Jews out, out to Palestine!").

How ironic that the German's wanted to send the Jews to the Middle East. Perhaps even the Nazis recognized the Jews' homeland was present-day Israel!!

Now if only the Arabs, Persians and the American liberals could figure it out...

Again, Happy Birthday and may G-d Bless you and your family!


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