Friday, May 29, 2009

"You don't have to look honey, but you always have to remember." (Sol Katz to Debbie Katz)

I get lots of funny things from my cousin, Jesse. They make me laugh...A LOT.

Sometimes, they make me think. And sometimes, they make me cry. And some of those times, they make me proud. Proud of my lineage, proud of my history and proud of my family. I share a link with history that not only goes back to the Old Testament, but also goes back barely over 60 years to the Holocaust. It's an ugly time in history. The death of over 6 million Jews, plus lots of others. But the stories of heroism and life are inspiring.

Through Jesse, and our cousins Billy and Bobby, I found a 2nd Cousin who had survived the camps. She is in her 80s and lives in LA with her son Andy, who works for Disney. In 2003, I interviewed her by telephone. She was wonderful. She had a sister named Stephanie. Ain't it grand how some names survive in families seemingly without the aid (or knowledge) of family members perpetrating them? I have found this to be true with the names of Eli, forms of the name Emily (Emma/Emmaline) and now Stephanie.

Anyway, she was beautiful and kind and accommodating about her story. She told me about her father Sam (my great uncle) and his great intelligence. He spoke five languages; escaped from a Russian prison; sold an encryption code to Israel in exchange for citizenship;etc. She also told me about being sent to the camps with her husband and baby son. While she was there, her sweet husband was killed. My heart stopped beating. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Her voice never quavered or paused. She said she was eventually released and made her way to New York to start her new life. I said, "Well, at least your son survived". And she said, "Oh no. I lost my baby boy also."

I couldn't speak. Her voice had no guile. No hate. She really did start over. She remarried. She was living with her boy now. I think of Job in the Old Testament. Replacement family.

I will copy what Jesse sent to me this morning and of course, I took editing license.....

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This is in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated by the unenlightened unknowing German and Russian citizens looking the other way. Now, more than ever with Iraq and Iran and others claiming the Holocaust to be "a myth", it's imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because there are others who would like to do it again. And maybe this time, it wouldn't just be "The Jews". Maybe this time, it would be "Your Group"...Your kids, your mothers, your fathers, your religious leaders....are you willing to stand by and let this happen again?....to anyone?