Monday, April 8, 2013

The Price of Admission

It’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, today. But then again, when is it not? I don’t need ghastly photos of starved corpses or films with mournful violin music to get in touch with my “inner-Holocaust.”

I think of the Holocaust first thing every morning even before I am fully caffeinated. This is the time I correspond with an old school friend in the States who suffers from an anxiety disorder. Her anxiety is a direct result of her Second-Generation status. Her parents were in Auschwitz.

I dare not write anything that could set her off and up her need for anti-anxiety meds. At the same time, she senses it if I hold something back and her fear of what it is I’m not telling her could set her off just as easily. If I forget to write to her, she goes into utter panic.

My correspondence done for the day, I still think about the Holocaust. I think of the Holocaust as my household brims with the normalcy of hectic mornings and count my blessings.

I think of the Holocaust when I see my children sitting around the table in their Sabbath best, scrubbed and shining and clean, taking second helpings of delicious food which some child, long ago, could not have. When that happens, I shake my head as if to clear it out. It’s forbidden to be sad on the Sabbath.

Thoughts of the Holocaust can arrive unbidden when I walk past the heap of shoes under the piano bench. My kids kicked them off to enjoy wiggling their hot toes in cool air after a day at school. The pile of shoes reminds me of those baby shoes at Auschwitz and makes me shudder. It makes me realize how the smallest thing has meaning when one is a Jew. Even a haphazard pile of shoes can be a double entendre, or a metaphor for tragedy.

I think about the Holocaust when I kiss a grandchild’s boo-boo and thank God for the inconsequential. I remember the Holocaust while taking my daily constitutional in the Israel-scented air, thinking of our triumph over evil with an Israeli Jewish population of now over 6 million. That makes me smile.

I thought about the Holocaust last night when my son sent me this clip, unable to help myself comparing then and now. That makes me furious.

Since February, I have worked for kars for kids, the car donation charity where I write about the issues that overtake me from day to day and keep me at my keyboard.  Today it is Holocaust Remembrance Day, and so it was natural for me to write about the Holocaust.

But it would always be natural for me to write about the Holocaust. The Holocaust is as much a part of my life as living and breathing. I keep it close and as far away as possible because nationhood and history come with a cost.

The price of admission is the Holocaust.