Today is Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement. There is fasting and prayers. Everyone forgives everyone else. It's a lovely day. I chanced upon the twitter account of Heather Dune, who is the author of the Holocaust memoir: "Rena's Promise". Sprinkled throughout Ms. Dune's tweets today have been pieces of prayers that were uttered at the concentration camp during Yom Kippur. There were phrases such as:
"It is something to fast, but we are so hungry already that fasting makes little difference."
"In the evening, after sundown, we eat yesterday's bread for supper & save today's for morning."
"Ignoring the bread from last night, hid deep in our pockets, we refuse soup at lunch."
"The knowledge that our God is near us lifts our spirits & we work w/renewed hope in our hearts."
"Tell Mama that I know she is watching over us through your eyes, Lord."
"protect my parents until we can return home. Tell them we are alive and love them..."
My father lost relatives in those camps. The thoughts of the camps haunted and frightened me all through my childhood. I still refuse to watch any Holocaust related movie or read any Holocaust related book. I can't do it. When the documentaries came on television when I was younger and I was sitting on his lap, I would bury my head in my father's chest to avoid seeing the images and his answer never changed. He said the same thing said in virtually every other Jewish home around the world. "You don't have to look, but you always have to remember".
So, with the blessings of living in this country and enjoying my freedoms AND growing up with the name of Katz without hiding or fearing for my life or the lives of my loved ones, may I offer these prayers:
Thank you for the love that binds me to my family. Thank you for providing my loved ones with all that they need. Thank you for the gift of charity that lifts all of us. Thank you for parents who love us unconditionally. Thank you for the opportunity to be a parent and learn how and why unconditional love can happen. And finally, as Yom Kippur is the day of Atonement, thank you for providing a means to which I can turn for a remission of my sins, which are many. And thank you for the blessings that come with forgiving others.
See Dad? I always remember...