Holocaust Day from the Perspective of a Sabra

Like many other Israelis, I try to stay away from the media on Yom Ha’Shoah – National Holocaust Day. I try very hard to avoid watching even a single documentary about the Holocaust. I’ve had enough and more then.

I’m a member of what they call the “third generation”.

Basically, for Israelis, this is how it goes –

First Generation – the people who went through the holocaust (or have had friends/family who have) and arrived in Israel. Most of them re-married and started new families.

Second Generation – their kids, who knew something horrible had happened, but didn’t get the details until much later. Their childhood was in the shadow of “that thing” which there parents never spoke of.

Third Generation – that’s us, who went through the crazy backlash of the 1970’s and 1980’s where schools were obsessed with the holocaust. As a kid, I’ve been through so many survivors’ testimonies, holocaust lessons, holocaust books (K. Zetnik anyone?) and movies, I think I have developed my own version of post traumatic stress syndrome from it all.

I vividly recall this one time where we were sent to a seminar in Kibbutz Lohamei Ha’Geta’ot – Fighters of the Ghettos. It was a nightmare. I’m not even sure how old we were – I suspect that in our early teens. We went through three days of constant “holocaust studies”. Evenings were dedicated to watching holocaust movies.

I don’t think it’s taking it too far, when I say I was scarred for life.

And the pendulum swings again. Myself, like many other parents of my generation, are far more cautious when it comes to telling our children about the holocaust. There will be a day when they will learn all the gory details. When they’re old enough, but not too soon.

I will share with them how their great grandmother was murdered. Under Nazi supervision, Polish workers poured barrels of acid over her and her family and friends, after having pushed them into the mass grave they were forced to dig in the woods. I will share the story of my grieving Grandmother and how she kept looking for her little brother and other family members, and gradually over the years discovered how they were murdered.

I want to give them time first. They need to grow up free from the fear which was instilled in us, free from the nightmares I still have occasionally, about life in the Warsaw Ghetto or in concentration camps.

That’s all I want to say today. I fully realize and am aware of how emotionally intense this day can be. I’m not trying to be controversial, just to share my personal perspective.

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13 Responses to Holocaust Day from the Perspective of a Sabra

  1. Joshua says:

    Beautifully written.

    One of my favorite pieces from you!

  2. Annette (@Annymac1) says:

    My heart breaks with you. Never realized how the trauma was carried on… Generational curses,may they be broken!

  3. Leah says:

    My oldest is 14 and I fully understand your perspective.

    There must be a healthy balance between ensuring that our children remember and understand the past and preserving their emotional well-being.

    • IsraeliMom says:

      I agree, and I guess that balance is especially problematic to achieve at schools, where you have large groups of pupils, each kid with her/his own sensitivities.

  4. Jonathan S says:

    Very interesting and moving.

    I find today a very sad day, and have my own reactions, too, as a diaspora Jew with a survivor father.

    It’s sad that this is what unite us all, but we are strong now. We are all survivors.

  5. I sympathise.

    For my part, I wasn’t born then; I have no immediate family who were affected; I didn’t listen to endless talks on it (just documentaries on TV); I have no reason to be ‘that’ affected – but I am affected by it as though I lived through it.
    .-= David Bennett Ecards´s last blog ..In Search Of Darjeeling Tea =-.

  6. Stephanie Kahn says:

    Thanks so much Anat. I really respect your opinion. I’m really looking forward to the day that we can meet.

    • IsraeliMom says:

      Thank you Stephanie. I am looking forward to meeting you too. I hope to meet you here in Israel before we get to Washington (which should be around May 2011).

  7. Chris says:

    I think we should never forget, but we also need the time to heal…
    .-= Chris@ 48hours logo´s last blog ..Outsource your logo design to 48hourslogo =-.

  8. Marica says:

    This is truly heartbreaking. Not being an Israeli, I never knew how the Holocaust has effected/is effecting different generations.

    It’s so sad and shocking to hear about the horrific stories which took place.

    I think you’re doing the right thing by “sheltering” your kids from this for now. You will have plenty of time to tell them how evil people can be.

    Sometimes you just have to “close your eyes” for a bit and look away from all the sadness, in order not to go crazy.