I'm a Holocaust survivor.

Friday, 6 May, 2016 - 3:38 am


Dear Friends,


It happened on Chanukah, four years ago. She was looking for a menorah and candles. She had been living here for several years already but only now, when her eight-year-old daughter wanted to have a Fir tree in the house, she decided that the time had come, and came to ask for a menorah.

As she was leaving, I placed my hand on the mezuzah and asked her: “Do you know what this is?”

“It’s a mezuzah,” she answered, “but in our family we don’t put up mezuzahs.” She then hurried to add: “Rabbi, please understand. My grandmother was in the camps, and after she was liberated, married and had children, she told us, ‘Do everything you can in order to hide your identity, so that if they come again, they won’t know you’re Jewish.’”

“If so,” I responded, “I have one question for you: If Hitler (may his name be blotted out) would meet both of us right now, whom would he be pleased with? With me, who is proud of my Judaism and not afraid, or with you, who, four generations later, from your grandmother to your daughter, is still afraid of him?”

That evening, I received an email: “Rabbi, I have nine doorways. When can you come?”

Dear friends,

Many of our people noted Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) yesterday.

I, too, am a Holocaust survivor. No – not a classical Holocaust survivor, and neither were my grandparents. No one in our immediate family was ever in the hands of the Germans. They managed to escape before the Germans came.

We are all Holocaust survivors.

Yes, we are all Holocaust survivors because the Final Solution was a plan to wipe us all out – in Morocco, in America, and certainly deep in Russia, where my father and mother had escaped to with their parents.

We are Holocaust survivors because they still want to do this, if only they could. Like the older man who approached me two years ago on Shabbat, as I was walking down the street with my young children, and with hatred in his eyes said in German, “Ich heisse Adolf” – “My name is Adolf.” He was careful not to say anything illegal, but his message was clear: If I only could, I would do it again. Yes, to you and your children.

The Holocaust killed many of us, but did not vanquish us. We are still here: remembering, feeling the pain, but proud – proud of our forefathers’ traditions.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalman Wishedski

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