Latest posts by Varda Epstein (see all)
To my mind, the real Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Day, is Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av. On this day, both Jewish temples were destroyed. World War I also began on the eve of Tisha B’Av in 1914, and contained within this event were the seeds of what grew into the Holocaust as a result of simmering German hatred and the necessity to find a Final Solution.
On the Ninth of Av, we Jews mourn our collective Jewish tragedies, all of them. And so I couldn’t help but question the ideology behind appointing a separate day for a separate calamity. Was the designation for the purpose of taking the Judaism out of the event and making it a secular Zionist tragedy instead? Or was it an innocent designation for educational purposes only (after all, there’s no school in late summer, when teachers might properly teach the subject to their students)?
The upshot? I’ve never really been sure how I feel about Yom HaShoah. Especially because in addition to thinking about the 6 million on the ninth of Av, I think about them ALL THE TIME.
It’s a pretty unforgettable period in our history.
So here’s the weird part: I’d been planning to write this piece about my husband’s cousin, who was killed in the Hebron Massacre of 1929. I promised myself last week that I’d definitely get it done this week. This is after years of procrastination.
So I sat down and finally tapped the story out on my keyboard over HERE at Israel National News, just now.
My mother in-law describes a lonely childhood as an only child in a house filled with adults. There were few relatives to flesh out the extended family so that she remembers them in clearest detail. So it is with her distant cousin Essie Wexler, whom she recalls with distinct clarity and pleasure. The Wexlers would visit the Schwartz family and the two little girls would play in the backyard, Seena and Essie. They must have both been about three years-old.
But then Essie’s family made Aliyah and Seena never saw Essie or the Wexlers again.
That is the story that came out when my husband, taking a cue from my forays into my family genealogy, began to ask questions about his own family history.
(Read the rest at INN.)
It was only after I’d posted this blog piece that I realized the appropriateness of my timing, in publishing this particular piece on the eve of Yom HaShoah. The story of Jacob Wexler and Avraham David Moses, is, after all, the story of Jews killed because of their religion.
It doesn’t matter where or when it occurs, it’s always an ancient story, one to which we never quite accustom ourselves, whether we think about it at Yom HaShoah, on Tisha B’Av, or at any other time.
It’s the never-ending story of the Jewish nation. Even though we’re still here–here to bear witness.
And to never forget.