My father, Yona, was a holocaust survivor. The holocaust was an unwanted, silent shadow in my family. It was always there, floating in mid air – though we all pretended it did not exist.
Growing up I tried to avoid immersing myself in books and movies on the topic. It’s not an easy feat here in Israel, as the “ghost” of the holocaust is hovering everywhere, including the public education system. But where I had the option to choose, I steered clear of it. Not because I thought it not worthy of my time. We work closely with several survivors on an ongoing basis, and hearing them is a gift I do not take lightly! But reading books and watching movies took an emotional toll that was hard to bear.
This year, for the first time in my life, I thought I am ready to face it. Ready to be exposed to more stories, ready to open my heart and look evil straight in the eye. So when I was asked to escort a group of Israeli youth on a journey to Poland, I dove straight into the center of hell – the biggest extermination camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Something happened to me there. I still struggle to find the accurate words to describe it. I find inside me a new level of awe for accuracy. I don’t want to just use big adjectives or familiar words to describe it. I am not even sure I am supposed to describe it. I just let whatever surfaces float within my soul and spirit, until eventually it will find rest or make some sense.
Since I came back, I have moments of confusion and some raw new emotions. I have anger, mingled with deep sadness, and I am not always sure towards whom. I find myself dealing with thoughts that never bothered me before. I may share some of them here later. But at this point, as we commemorate the annual Holocaust Memorial Day here in Israel, I’d like to share with you a short video I recorded together with my friend Rachel Smilovich, who translates me here into Spanish for her friends and relatives.
2 thoughts on “Ultimate Goodness and the Nazi Camps”
A few years back I did go through those extermination camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau and there was a deepness of emotions that came about as I went through it. I do understand how you are feeling Orna as it is hard to explain until a person allows God to speak you throughout the days. Phillip
So full of love, Orna. I have no more words than that.