Monday, April 28, 2014

Too Much Information? Yom Hashoah 2014

It happens to me every year. We go to London for Pesach and extend our trip for the entire duration of the school holiday plus a couple of days in order to get the slightly cheaper return flights. Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) is one week after the end of Pesach. So we get back, half unpack, still have piles of waiting laundry dotted around the floor, living in three weeks worth of dust as it's more important to catch up on work stuff than to clean the apartment, we've not quite got our school/work sleeping routines back to normal and poonkt it's Yom Hashoah.

I've written about it before. All eateries and places of entertainment are closed for 25 hours. At 10am there is a two minute siren and everything stops. The cars on the roads, even on the motorways, people in the street, the tv and radio. You think your own remembrance thoughts.

Since becoming a mother I usually think about the Kindertransport - the mothers who put their children on trains and promised to find them after the war. Or other mothers who gave their children to gentiles to hide for the duration with similar promises. Hopeful but hollow promises. Who knew who would survive and who would not?

This was the Tel Aviv Highway today.

My facebook feed is full of testimonies, names of dead relatives, photos, prayers, discussions. DD has talked about it in kindergarten. The children all wear blue and white and stand in silence for the siren.

DD: "There was a big war and the bad people wanted to kill all the Jews. Some of them ran away and some hid. Some were put in big prison camps and had to work hard like the slaves in Egypt. Lots of them died. We have to remember them. Who do you remember Mummy?"

Me: "I wasn't there, it was before I was born Darling. It was when Grandma and Grandpa were children but they were in England so they weren't in it. Do you remember Dalia and Gabi's grandma and grandpa who were at seder night? They were in it and they ran away to England."

Too much information for a five year old? This was one of the discussions on facebook today. It was a moot point as we don't get the choice - the children learn about it in school from nursery. My opinion? Neither too much nor too early. It is unfortunately a part of their heritage. A couple of years ago I wrote this piece for the 100 Word Challenge (the prompt was: Lest We Forget). This is something our children will not experience. Each generation will need to make more of an effort to remember.

History and yet a part of my life. Peers without grandparents, uncles, aunts, or cousins. Friends' parents sobbing behind closed doors. Children who are replacements for beloved families lost. Roles they can never live up to. I know them.

Born only 17 years after, I've spent my whole life trying to squash those 17 years smaller. Watching every film archive, reading every book, trying to get closer. Why? Because I was bequeathed the collective memory to carry and safeguard lest we forget. I remember something I never experienced. We all do. Like stories of your babyhood you remember only from the repeated telling.


  1. An amazing and very powerful post. History is so very important - we can never forget, ever. As long as its told in a way that children understand, then I think it's okay, and at five, they are becoming well aware of things like death and people killing each other... also amazing watching the traffic stopping and starting again. X

  2. One of my fb friends said it's something they are always aware of from a very early age. As they grow up they get a deeper understanding of what happened, age appropriate for every year.