As we see years pass, we remember together with those who survived and still are with us “Blessed be God”. And we, the second generation and even the third who start taking upon us the responsibility to pass over to the next generations, the horror of the Shoah. But how?
My mother just gave us a one and a half hour film telling her story, to be kept in the family for all generations to come, although she wasn’t at a concentration camp, her moving story of hiding from the Nazis in Holland and France together with my father with false identity cards, he had at his time arrived in Amsterdam from Dachau and Buchenwald 1939 in his way to Colombia but the Nazis invaded Holland, and things changed. Their story will always stay in my children and my mind as it sadly does in her nightmares. Of her family, she and two cousins were the only ones to survive, from my fathers side who luckily had succeeded to flee from Viena to South America earlier, many were saved. My parents moved there after the war, and I was born years later. She proudly told me Colombian radio interviewed her after the 27th of January commemoration act were she lighted a candle.
The 27th of January, the International commemoration day of the liberation of Auschwitz. As in acts all over the world, we also commemorated it in Stockholm in our Synagogue as we do since the year 2000 when it was instituted here, in this same place, and 55 countries agreed upon the “Stockholm’s Declaration”.
With the presence and speech between others of the Swedish Minister of Culture, representatives of three generation survivors, the President of the Community Alf Levy, who with a strong voice critized the apathy of political leaders against the menace of Iran which between other antisemitic manifestations around the globe are asking again for Jewish/Israel’s extermination, and how right he was, anticipating what today made the headlines announcing the agreement in commerce made between Europe and Iran, it is such a shame that Europe hasn’t learned the lesson yet, who are they allying with?.
Other personalities present, as from the Foreign Dept. of the State of Israel with our dear Ambassador at its head and who also spoke of the danger we are confronting with Iran , and many other Swedish politicians who were present in our beautiful Synagogue, with former Prime Minister Göran Persson and hopefully future Prime Minister Mona Sahlin as always leading the way to a democratic Sweden, we personally expressed her our good wishes in the coming elections. I already commented in another post of the risk of having the nationalistic party getting a bigger share in the new elections.
The musical part this year with ” Lilla Kören” (see photo) which sang at the evening between others excellent arrangements of Halichat Kesjaria from Zehavi, Unter deine veize shtern from Sutzkever/Brudno, Elegy to Dachau from Amstrong and accompanied me in Psalm 130, an arrangement made by my predecessor Cantor Leo Rosenbluth on the traditional Kol Nidrei melody. I introduced as well a variation of the El Male Rachamim, the prayer for the death, from Janowski, this time with the inclusion of the names of the death camps as Cantor Alberto Mizrahi does in his improvisation in “Music of the Synagogue” even with the very dramatic part of the organ, as always, thank you maestro Lars Gunnar Sommarbäck for your great musical capacity and to the choir and its director Pelle Olofson for the excellent performance. As well an applause to the organizer Netta Frister Aaron, head of culture of the Stockholm’s Jewish Community. If we only could have shorter ceremonies, we have so many year around, Kristallnacht, this one, the Warsawa Ghetto memorial commemoration and the Yom HaShoah commemoration day which worldwide since 1951 the 27th of Nisan around April/May is the “most popular” of these commemoration days. Too many……and too long, we do not need to sit so many hours a year to be reminded of the same story, what is the benefit of this opening of sores again and again, so many books are written on the theme, we educate the future generations to never forget, but we should also look to the future optimistically, see how we have after so many years built families, in Israel and all the countries who received our parents after the Holocaust. We should strive for their jewish education and the observation of our traditions we so proudly carry 4000 years, and which kept us through all civilizations . I haven’t heard anything new in the hundreds of memorial ceremonies I have been at, I am afraid that we are not approaching correctly our youth (didn’t see so many) with these type of acts. As of yesterday night, besides as I mentioned, the appeal Mr. Levy made and the musical intervention of the choir, in the words of my 14 year old daughter “It was boring”. Why don’t we learn from how Israel remembers it’s fallen soldiers in the ceremonies the Israeli militar has established around the planet, and all Israeli Embassies prepare every year for Yom Hazikaron, it is very professional especially by keeping it short and that doesn’t mean it does not fulfill its purpose of remembering those who passed away.
And to those who follow Amalek’s wishes to destroy us, as we read this week Exodus Chapter 17.16, you wont succeed. As the partisans song says; “vir seynen du” “we are here” and let me add “Thank God”.