A Child of Survivors Speaks Out

Haggadah Section: Commentary / Readings
By Rabbi Dr. Bernhard H. Rosenberg
      In the Haggadah it states, " It is our duty to thank and to praise in song and prayer, to glorify and extol Him who performed all these wonders for our forefathers and for us. "  I, as a son of survivors thank God for allowing my parents to survive and giving me the opportunity to study and become a Rabbi."
            I personally feel no guilt for having the God-given privilege of being alive.  I mourn for my grandparents, uncles, and aunts who perished at the hands of Nazi maniacs; often weeping for not having experienced their love.  I cry in anguish when reminded that six million of my brethren, young and old, left this earth via gas chambers and crematoriums.  I sense the pain of my family and friends who saw their elders shot before their very eyes and their babies hurled against brick walls and bayoneted.  I experienced deep anger when I viewed the numbers branded on the arm of my father, of blessed memory.  Yet I thanked God for sparing the lives of my beloved parents.
            Yes, I blame humanity for remaining silent while my innocent brethren perished screaming in terror for someone to heed their outcries.  Humanity; not God.  We are not puppets to be controlled by our Creator.  People caused the Holocaust; people remained silent.  Leaders of countries refused to intercede on behalf of the defenseless. Should I then hate humanity?  Should I live with anger in my heart, rebelling against the environment, rejecting those of other faiths and cultures?  Perhaps I should bend in fear like a blade of grass when the winds of anti-Semitism turn toward me.  Perhaps I should walk along the rocky paths of society fearing what the future may bring.
            I openly and candidly answer in the negative.  No, I will not live in a shell of neurotic chaos, and I will not reject society.  I refuse to live in a world which rejects hope, receiving nourishment from the seeds of hatred. I admire and respect my beloved parents, Jacob and Rachel, of blessed memory, and honor them for their strength and courage.  Even Auschwitz could not diminish their faith.  They could have rejected humanity; instead they aided others in their daily fight for existence.  No, a world of anger and hostility was not their banner.
            Now that I am an orphaned adult, I appreciate even more the impact that my parents had upon me.  All that I am and all that I ever will be I owe to them.  They instilled within me pride and fortitude; their motto became my personal outcry, “Never Again.”
            Refuse to discuss the Holocaust?  Sweep these memories under the rug?  No-this is not our mission to the world and ourselves.  Let the truth be known!  Let others realize what the world did to an ethical, moral and religious populace.  Let them hear the testimony of valiant survivors.  Let them see our courage. Feel guilt for surviving, for speaking on behalf of children who wee silenced-never!
            I became a rabbi to aid the living, to ensure our survival; to rekindle the Jewish flame.  I am proud; proud of my heritage, proud of our strength, and proud of my beloved parents. Contrary to what we are told, the passage of time does not ease our pain, nor does it diminish the scope of the horror that was the Holocaust.
            Oh yes, there are those, few in number, who feel that it is psychologically healthier to avoid reminders that keep painful and unpleasant events alive.  Why subject our young to the brutal story of Nazi bestiality toward the Jewish people?  What purpose will it serve?  It would be wiser not to talk about it so that it can disappear. Never!  We must never stop telling this story.  Tell it we must, in every gory detail!  We must do this because it is our sacred duty to alert them to the evils of men, so that they will never be lulled into a false sense of safety and security.  We must alert them so that our children will be vigilant and will never be caught unaware as were the Jews who perished in the Holocaust.  This is the message I emphasize to my beloved children, Ilana, Ayelet, Yaakov and Ari. Although we are cognizant that our children will be adversely affected, that they will feel great pain upon learning the true facts of the Holocaust, we know that this is something we must do.
Source:  
Rabbi Dr. Bernhard H. Rosenberg

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