Monday, April 19, 2010

Yom Hashoa 2010

Throughout the year I get asked to tell the story of a Jewish Family, my family in schools, Yeshivot, army camps and Yad Vashem.

But the week of Yom Hashoa I am booked weeks ahead for every day of the week and beyond.

It started last Friday with a memorial service for my grandson. Eight years ago on Yom Hashoa he fell in action in J'enin, while I was at Yad Vashem at an International conference, about to give a workshop on how to remember the beloved ones who perished long ago in the Shoa.

Sunday, the eve of Yom Hashoa, early in the morning I got picked up by an army car and taken to a training camp somewhere in the desert. The drive was long, dusty and bumpy. A group of young recruits from a special air force unit, just back from some exercise, gathered for a memorial service and listened to my story. From there I was taken to a permanent camp, miles away from the first. Some 400 soldiers of all ranks took time out for a Yom Hashoa ceremony. Four of my grandsons had served in the air force, two of them in this special unit. Some officers remembered them from when they served there. I felt it as a special honor for me to be allowed to talk to that unit. It was a long day for me.

The next day, on Yom Hashoa itself, I participated in the ceremony at a school for pupils with special needs. The topic was siblings during the Shoa. So I adapted my talk to put special emphasis on this while telling my story. In the afternoon a couple of soldier girls visited me as part of the project "A Flower for Survivors". They insisted on hearing my story, so I told it to them.

Tuesday I was off again to another army camp in the center of the country, driving through densely crowded country side in contrast to the previous ride to the camp in the desert. The soldiers were from different groups in training for becoming officers.

Wednesday I spoke in the local elementary school where my grandchildren had studied. It was up three flights of stairs and one of the teachers had to literally pull me up all those steps. It took some time to get the Projector to talk to the Computer but in the end it worked out alright. The pupils from the fifth and sixth grade were as fascinated by my story as any other listener. In the evening I spoke in the Jewish quarter of the old city to a bunch of girls from English speaking countries. The girls are in Israel for a study year.

Thursday afternoon I went to a group meeting in Amcha (Social support for survivors). Each of us was given a chance to tell what Yom Hashoa means for us today. There are vast differences in our stories. It was a long week for me.

Sunday evening my son Danny took me to Ramat Rachel to take part in the memorial ceremony for the fallen soldiers of the Kibbutz. Afterwards the whole family gathered at my daughter's place. We had missed a television show where I appeared.

This morning, Monday, I gave a talk to pupils of the ninth grade at the High School next to the university. This was part of an extended memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers on the eve of our Independence Day. When I got home I went to my computer and managed on the internet to listen to yesterday's program.

The week before Channel 2 had interviewed two sets of grandparents and me as a bereaved grandmother. Parents, widows and orphans are recognized as bereaved members of the fallen soldier's family. Grandparents so far have been left to their own devices. What I tried to convey at the interview is the difficulty of a grandmother living on her own to cope with grieving for her grandson without actually being considered as part of the bereaved community. As grandparents we are never invited to participate at official ceremonies.

Tomorrow is Independence Day. Thursday I will give a talk in a girls high school. The emphasis will be on 62 years of Statehood but still include the story of a Jewish family, my family and building up of the country in its early stages.

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