It’s a day that is set aside to honor the memory of the Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis and their fellow-travelers during World War II and the years leading up to it. Years that started with gradually increasing persecution and that finished with millions perishing in death camps, gassed, shot, and burned.
Jews were not, of course, the only victims of the Nazi regime. Anyone deemed “socially undesirable” by the Nazi racial supremacists was targeted: Gypsies, homosexuals, cripples, the mentally handicapped, were all fed into the ovens, along with Communists, socialists, and anyone who dared speak out against the Powers That Be. But Jews were singled out for special opprobium. It was the Nazi desire to make the Jews vanish completely from the world stage, so much so that they collected Judaica for the eventual purpose of housing it in a “Museum of an Extinct Race.”
I thought of writing a Holocaust Remembrance piece, but then I happened upon a story at David Bogner’s site, Treppenwitz, and I saw no point...for David nails it perfectly.
David tells the story of his son Gilad, who at the age of three was old enough to begin wearing a fringed undershirt, in the manner of observant Jews. But the story of a little boy on his first day of wearing tzitzi’ot leads to another story, a story of a man who escaped the death camps - and a subsequent encounter with Russian troops - to go on to have a family...
“When you think Gilad is old enough to hear this story I want you to tell him in my name that these strings we wear are important. They remind us who we are every single moment that we wear them...and sometimes they remind others who we are too. Because of these strings I lived instead of being shot. I was able to marry, raise a family and live to be an old man who gives candy to your beautiful children in shul. Please tell Gili in my name so that every morning while he is making this blessing, he will never forget how important these strings are to us.”Read the whole thing.