Am Israel Chai – The Jewish People Live
Walking to synagogue with my daughter Friday night, she told me that in school her teacher read the class a story about the Holocaust. She knows our family lost 70 family members or more in the Holocaust and the book had an impact on her. As we spoke about why the Nazis tattooed the Jews’ arms with numbers and how many kids were killed in the concentration camps and some of our families’ history, it sank in. It was a hard talk, yet a necessary one for any Jewish child.
As has been said, there’s not that many survivors left to tell the stories that need to be told so that they are remembered. My family lost so many – on my grandfather, Morris Waga’s side, we lost Jacob, Edzia, Manie, Miriam, Tova, Faivish, Sheindl, Eyal, Rut, Faina, Hana, Mania, Anna, Zalman, Shenidla, Feivel, Rifka and 4 year old Rutka Waga who was murdered in Treblinka.
On my grandmother’s side, Rose Waga, in Tarnow, Poland we also lost many, including Mendel Linzer, Pepi Linzer, Anne Linzer and more. It’s only two generations ago – and who knows how many more names are not remembered. Yet, thankfully in my home and in many other Jewish homes worldwide we are teaching the next generation about the Jewish tragedy of the Holocaust.
In my home, we know that we lost so much in the Holocaust. But when my daughter kept asking me, “but daddy why did they want to kill the Jews?” I couldn’t give her a straight answer. As we all know there’s no easy answer. And today, there is no easy answer as to why:
- Israel seems to be the only country in the world of which it is acceptable to speak of destroying. Of all the countries in the world, the tiny nation of Israel is the one which is accused of causing all these worldwide problems?
- The Syrians kill tens of thousands of their own citizens, in Latin America people are tortured daily, in China people imprisoned for years on end, in Africa slavery still exists… and many more worldwide atrocities exist, yet Israel continually receives such undue attention in the media.
- A Scottish writer, Iain Banks who was named by The Times as one of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945,” and has less than a year to live due to cancer, decides to support the the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Of all the countries in the world, he won’t allow Israel to sell his books.
And there are so many other questions which could be asked and can’t be answered. What I know is that my grandparents, Rose & Morris Waga survived the Holocaust. My mother, Penny Waga (of blessed memory) raised us to be strong, proud Jews, and now we are doing the same thing with our children – and we, the Jewish nation, need to keep doing the same.
We cannot control what they do – we can, however control what we do. Am Israel Chai. The Jewish people live.