I grew up with the phrase “Never Again” recited as a mantra, that the Holocaust could not, must not, occur ever again. Then came October 27, 2018, and now Poway, California. “Never again” has been forcibly removed from me, replaced by “Yet Again”. The anti-Semitic forces that have always existed are emboldened to not only speak words of H, but act upon them by slaughtering us yet again. Not that it was an unexpected outcome, but the heinous attack in Poway ripped the scab right off, revealing fresh wounds that we thought had slowly started to heal.
I was privileged to be invited by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to participate in the Yom HaShoah commemoration on Monday, April 29 at the US Capitol. It was an honor to sit and reconnect with Ambassador Ron Dermer, who continues to be so very supportive. After the pomp and circumstance presenting the colors of various army divisions that liberated our people from the death camps in 1944, a procession of survivors walked past to the haunting theme from “Schindler’s List”. I was amazed that I remained composed, my nerves still raw from Poway. A woman seated nearby was crying, and as a female survivor walked by, she smiled at her and uttered the powerful statement, “Don’t cry. We’re still here.” Wow! That took my breath away as a survivor of unspeakable horror comforted this woman, and unbeknownst to her, comforted me as well. Her words were echoed by me as I sang The Partisans Hymn as a recessional, with the concluding words “Mir Zeinen Doh”: We are here!
We have been given an awesome responsibility by God. We are to be moral when those around us are amoral, civil amid the uncivil, human amid the inhuman, welcoming amid the unwelcoming. My thoughts turned once again to Psalm 30, slightly rewritten: My mourning has been transformed into outrage. We will not be chased from our houses of worship. Mir Zeinen Doh!