Wednesday, February 3, 2010

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Last night David, Shana, and I attended a meeting at her school to discuss the upcoming trip to Poland, the Israeli high school student's rite of passage that visits sites of former Jewish life and Nazi destruction. It was freezing and pouring on the way to Yerushalayim, so much so that we nearly turned back soon after we left home, but as the weather is wont to do here, we held out a couple of minutes, and it changed.

Shana tells me a few of her friends so not want to take this trip. I want her to go. Here's why:

1. I went when I was eighteen, and it was a life-altering, consciousness-raising experience. The Rav who spoke last night laid out his goals for the trip (I don't think I have them all here, but here is an attempt to recreate the list): to be knowledgable of our past, to strengthen our emuna, to intensify our resolve to help our fellow Jew, and to be happier afterwards - yes, he said happier. I could not agree more. I walked away with the resolve to lead a Torah life and to have lots of kids. Also, to live in Israel, but obviously, that took a while and may not have been the best thought out part of my plan at the time. Everything has to come in its own time, and B"H it did.

2. Shana is the great-granddaughter of survivors. I want her to see with her own eyes and thereby understand the horror they endured, while coming out the other side with their faith intact, and with the determination to build a Jewish family, steeped in Avodat Hashem. Sounds a lot like what I said before, but directly as a result of appreciating my grandparents and their sacrifice.

3. See what happens when the world stands silent, indifferent. Where were the Jews of the Allied countries, of the Land of Israel? I still can not comprehend how American Jews who were adults at that time could live with themselves, could get through the day to day without haunting, devastating guilt for the rest of their lives. I guess the human mind is a protective thing. But we need to know, especially as citizens of this land, that we are responsible for every Jew. We can be good citizens of the world, sure, but Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh La zeh comes first - if we are not for ourselves, who will be?

4. Sometimes it is okay to be intimidated by what is to come. It is okay to be frightened by the idea of what you will see. Overcoming that makes you a stronger person. There is no other way to fully comprehend the enormity and ferocity and technical precision of what happened in Europe in the Shoah years. Hearing, reading, none of it is close to seeing with your own eyes.

Rambling thoughts, somewhat unrefined. Thanks for bearing with me... Lighter subjects next time.


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