Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Reading my own name...

I represented Kol Zimrah, along with RW, at an UWS reading of names for Yom Hashoah. I think remembering the Holocaust is important, but I also feel that the emphasis mainline Jewish organizations place on it to almost complete eclipse of thousands of years of history is frustrating. Being a late night person, and figuring its always good to give our community opportunities to practice how they see fit, I volunteered to be the point person.

We walked over, passing by several people who needed money on the way. I gave what i could, also knowing we needed to be on time for our slot. We got there, a few people, and a speaker was telling a story about the man who captured eichmann. He asked if we were ready, I stepped up to the lechtern and started reading names. It was very difficult, reading those names; trying to stay composed while imagining the life they had, or were having before this happened. It was particularly unnerving because at the beginning of my reading, there were about a dozen women named Rosa Hecht. I thought, it being 3:30 in the morning, that this was some surreal dream, but it was real. Then, not sure what i was motivated by, but I wanted to see if my family names were in there. Both sides of my family were pretty small, and my great grandparents were already here by the time the holocaust had taken root, but I wanted to see. Under my dad's family, nothing. But under the Ks, I found a precious few names. And I was stunned. I read them, my voice starting to crack. I began thinking about the cousins I could've been visiting all over Europe, the lives of my blood cut down beforehand.

Can we take that sadness, that familial anguish, and remember that there are people,right now, who are fighting their way through existance? We may not be able to save our loved ones who were cut down, or even the whole families who were destroyed and have no one to remember them, but we can do something about the crises affecting the world. We can honor them, not just by fighting the immediacy of genocide, but also the slow broil of sweatshops, the disasters of human rights violations, the racism that plagues arguments behind who's illegal.

That's how I will remember.


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