In a previous post on the extraordinary gathering commemorating the 70th Anniversary of Auschwitz’s Liberation, I wrote about the searing Kaddish recited by Mr. Shmuel Beller in memory of his relatives who were murdered there. (Here is a video clip of his Kaddish.)
After Mr. Beller finished Kaddish, he took off his shoes as a sign of mourning, and sat Shiva on the floor for a few short moments, presumably because he never got to sit Shiva when his parents and siblings were murdered in the concentration camps.
At that point, an Israeli holocaust survivor approached Mr. Beller and told him in Yiddish to, “Get off the ground.” He said, “We cried enough over our loss; we are here now to celebrate our survival.”
I put my arm around the Israeli survivor, walked him away from that area and told him in Ivrit that they are both right, and they have the freedom to commemorate this observance in any way they wish to.
There is no single narrative to describe the monumental tragedy of the holocaust, but rather different accounts that reflect the lens through which the one telling the story views things.
One thing is certain, though. For decades, the perspective of Orthodox Jews has been underrepresented in the recorded legacy of the Holocaust. Here too, there are probably various narratives to describe why this is the case.
But as the precious few survivors among us age, we must support efforts to fill this void by creating spaces and materials that are culturally congruent with our standards and which squarely address the complex matter of maintaining one’s faith amid unfathomable tragedy.
Previous posts on the 70th Anniversary of Auschwitz’s Liberation: