“Ima, what’s this?”
“That? That’s… a candle.”
“But why is it here?”
“Why is it here…
…Remember how I’m from New York? I was a kid in New York. Like you’re a kid in Tzur Hadassah. I grew up there… with Grandma and Grandpa… It’s where I went to school. You know?”
“So… many years ago… something… very bad happened. In New York. And… a lot of people got an ow-a.”
“…No… not Grandma… people. People I don’t know. But they lived in New York, like me. And they got an ow-a. So every year… after my yomuledet… I light another candle. For those people. From New York.”
So it’s come to this: I go to Holocaust memorial services in Israel and all I can think about is how my kids may turn out in this culture.
Well, in the first place, I have yet to be impressed by an Israeli-made Holocaust memorial service. They’ve lacked intensity, empathy and authenticity so far. It seems to feel like an obligation; the yoke of some old Ashkenazi grandparents. I know this because the Yom HaZikaron ceremonies are a lot different. Which is natural and fair: they hit closer to home. Maybe the Holocaust hits closer to home in the diaspora Jewish communities, then.
Anyway, back to the kids: Yeah, I don’t know what to think. Kids here are probably much like kids anywhere, as a general age demographic. You have your snotty ones, your indifferent ones. The ones filled with kindness and friendship. Looking around I see kids in tight jeans standing silently with respect. Then others who shouldn’t be brought to stale Holocaust ceremonies because they can’t handle it; no patience, no context.
Come to think of it, it was much like that back in New York, too. So what is it about kids, then? Are they scary because I no longer am one?
Or is it, like anywhere else, that it comes down to the parents…
…And it’s the parents here who scare me more than anything.
We attended the Yom Hashoah tekes (טקס or ceremony) tonight, organized by the neighborhood Scouts and Bnei Akiva kids.
It was very much a small-town tekes. A few things came to mind while I stood and watched:
- It never occurred to me before how it must have been for the Mizrachi population to get to Israel in the 1950s, meet all these Ashkenazi European Jews for the first time and hear the horrors. What did they think?
- It is inevitable that there will be loud, disruptive, annoying kids at a Holocaust remembrance event. But isn’t that what our grandparents survived for? To continue the Jewish people? Kids will be kids, but thank god they are here, right?
- This was the first public Tzur Hadassah event that I saw the community come together for a moment. I took notice of the different languages spoken, skin tones, ages, etc.
- If my kids end up growing to be tight jeans-wearing, spiky haired, Nike swoosh-donning arsim, I am going to – oh, man. Somewhere my parents are laughing at me.
On Saturday night an assembly is being held in the memory of Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated 12 years ago in the kikar that now has his name.
Based on the giant sign I saw hanging in the square and based on some of the articles and other signs I’ve see, there seems to be a lot more anger this year than in past years.
There’s reason for it too: Yigal Amir – Rabin’s murderer – has had the pleasure to marry, conceive a child and now give that child a brit mila from prison all in recent time.
I can’t afford to go into a rant about it because it’s emotionally taxing. But if you’re interested, here are the details of the memorial rally: