March 28, 2011

We Cannot Forget

Rainy days in Tel Aviv are few and far between, but they tend to be dreary.  Especially when the day before there was a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem and earlier that day rockets were being shot from Gaza into Ashdod, not even an hour drive from Tel Aviv.

I’m currently living in a country in the middle of great political turmoil.  And a rainy day most definitely casts a shadow upon my mood, making me greatly aware of the potential war that could arise any day.  Should I be scared, worried, nervous?  Should I stay away from crowds, avoid public transportation, hide out in my apartment in Ramat Aviv, nestled on the outskirts of busy and lively downtown Tel Aviv?

I’ve realized this is not the way to live.  Life cannot come to a halt simply because the Israeli government is sitting on the edge of their seats, figuring out what their next move will be.  And it doesn’t even seem like my thoughts have crossed Israeli minds, considering they go on living their daily lives.  People here have always known war; they are well aware that a terrorist bomb can erupt anywhere, that rockets can get shot off at any time.  It is life for them.  However, they are mentally prepared.  All Israelis serve in the army and the security here is top-notch (my bags are checked every time I enter school, the mall, the Kotel, etc.).  In all honestly, I feel safer walking around Tel Aviv than I do my own college campus or neighborhood.

Whenever there is war, bombings, rockets, there is usually death.  It can be death of one, death of thousands, or in the case of the Holocaust, death of millions.  Either way, every individual death is someone’s life and every life is a world.  Think about how many people one death affects: it affects family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  One life has encountered many lives, achieved many accomplishments, and dealt with many troubles, anxieties, and hardships.

Last night at my evening religious class the weekly speaker was Mr. Issy Burstyn who told us his story of how he survived the Warsaw ghetto during World War II.  His story was incredible and unforgettable.  As I intently hung onto every word spoken in a thick Polish accent, I began to realize that my children will never have the opportunity to hear a first-hand account of a Holocaust survivor.  This thought nearly brought me to tears. I truly believe that I can never hear enough Holocaust survivor accounts.

What makes me feel even worse is when I read stories in the newspaper of individuals denying the Holocaust ever happened.  How can someone deny history?  Can we deny what is currently going on in Darfur?  Can we deny enslaving the Blacks or lynchings?  Can we deny the establishment of countries?  No!  Why would anyone ever try to pretend like history never occurred, that lives that were tortured, treated like garbage, and burned to the earth never existed?  History cannot just disintegrate into thin air.  That is why we pass down and record stories.  History is our past, a way to learn and improve, a way to not make the same mistakes again.  Without history, we would repeat our wrongs and never understand our rights.  We cannot forget.  We cannot forget our history.

posted in Elyse Schunkewitz

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1 Comment

  1. when i was your age, in 1968, i took a summer course(s) at Hebrew University. i can see from your post that you have already learned the important lessons.

    says michael molovinsky
    March 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm
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