Saturday, May 12, 2007

Presenting my mother

In Yad Vashem, over the last couple of years I have spoken to a great number of smaller and larger groups of pupils, students and soldiers, to thousands of them.
Using a power point projection, I tell the story of a Jewish family, before during and after the Shoa, some who perished and some who survived, the story of my family, showing pictures, reading a letter and a poem.

More often than not they are awe stricken after I finish with the reading of one of my poems about the Connecting Path that connects Mt. Herzl with Yad Vashem, the past with the present, my world with the world of my mother who perished in Auschwitz.

It happens frequently that somebody comes up to me and asked for my address. Recently one of these soldiers came to visit me at my home together with his girlfriend. We had a long conversation and I gave the girlfriend a little booklet with the translation of my mother’s letters to me, which she promised to return after she had read it.

Yesterday there was a very gentle knock on the door.
The girlfriend, a student of history and theater, who lives in Ofrah came in, to return the booklet.
At first she was a bit shy , but then I asked her what she thought of the letters, what impression had she got of the person who wrote letters.

After a long moment of contemplating she said:

“Your mother’s ardent wish to succeed to come to Palestine shows that she was a very strong personality, determent to go ahead. She never gave in, tried and tried again.
She must have been a strong person.
When she found out that they could not get away from Germany as a whole family, she managed to send her children away, one after the other, so that they should be spared from what was to come.
Also her mother, who had always lived with her, left at the age of 75 to join her son in Portugal. That must have been very hard for her.

It is remarkable that in her letters to you she did not complain at all. She took an interest in what her children did, how they got on with life. She talks about living between hope and despair, coping with their daily working life, visiting friends, celebrating birthdays under these special circumstances far away from those they loved and about the very special loving and caring relationship with her husband.
Their love for each other comes through very strongly in the letter she wrote to you, when you were only seventeen and a half and about to get married.
That is a lovely letter.”

To hear these words spoken to me about my mother is very soothing.

For years I have tried to portray as to who my parents really were, to take them out of the anonymity, to give them a face of real people, with values and feelings, who cared for us children and for each other.

May be in a small way I succeeded to bring this across.

No comments: