I love this insight from Etty Hillesum’s diary in which she reflects: “I must make sure I keep up with my writing, that is, with myself, or else things will start to go wrong for me: I shall run the risk of losing my way.”
There is so much there. Continue reading “Keeping up”
A short reflection upon reading the preface of Tima Kurdi’s book The Boy on the Beach: My Family’s Escape from Syria and Our Hope for a New Home:
It’s so important and helpful to have these particular stories of individuals, sometimes with photos – memoirs written that are so descriptive and that completely endear a person to the personalities in the story and it really reminds me of how, when I was visiting Auschwitz, the survivors and the guides would say, ‘Okay, we’re going to go into this barrack and see the shoes. And you’re going to see thousands and thousands of shoes. But don’t look at all of them because it’s too immense. Instead, just pick one shoe and focus on it and think about the person whose feet filled that shoe, or that pair of shoes, because it’s the only way to begin to contemplate anything meaningful – not as an abstraction, but always personal.’ Continue reading ““Pick one shoe.””
Today marks ten years since one of the most pivotal experiences of my entire life — the March of Remembrance and Hope Holocaust Study Trip to Germany and Poland.
Travelling on the trip with two Holocaust survivors and sixty young Canadians was transformative. My grandfather had practically dared me to go — thinking that it would shake my faith. Continue reading “Ten years since the March of Remembrance & Hope”
It might seem that Aharon Appelfeld’s novels are mystical. Yet, with the enchanting characters – whose blindness, deafness, muteness, psychic unrest, vulnerabilities of age, and moral defects serve to “exaggerate purposely, to make things visible” (as a character says in a different one of his novels) – there is the splendorous reality of the human condition on full display. Continue reading ““Laish” by Aharon Appelfeld”
On this date in 1977, Shimon Peres became the 8th Prime Minister of Israel. As Shmuel Rosner wrote in this New York Times article, “Mr. Peres began his life in Vishneva, a village on the border of modern-day Poland and Belarus. When he left for Palestine in 1934, under his original name, Shimon Persky, his grandfather told him, ‘Be a Jew, forever!’ The grandfather, along with much of his family, perished in the Holocaust.” Continue reading ““Be a Jew, forever!””
Today I find myself thinking about Janusz Korczak. A Polish-Jewish author, teacher, pediatrician, and orphanage director, he refused to leave the orphans during the Second World War even though he was offered refuge. The Nazis murdered him, together with the children, at the death camp called Treblinka. Continue reading “Ethics is not the science of happiness”
Having lived in Europe for a couple years and spent time in Germany, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, and Lithuania, I’ve had the opportunity to see Holocaust memorials in several different countries. Continue reading ““There near this wall Nazis shot and burned people in 1943-1944””
Tonight I am remembering standing in a forest surrounding the Nazi extermination camp called Treblinka. Why? Because I just finished reading Aharon Appelfeld’s novel Blooms of Darkness and, upon finishing it, am feeling somewhat like I did after going to Treblinka. Continue reading ““Blooms of Darkness” by Aharon Appelfeld”
Today I finished reading a novel by Aharon Appelfeld titled For Every Sin.
In it, the protagonist, Theo, is a young adult who has survived the Holocaust and is trying to walk all the way back to his hometown. En route, he continually encounters “refugees” – other Jews like him who have survived the camps but for whom he has disdain and with whom he doesn’t think he has much in common. Continue reading ““For Every Sin” by Aharon Appelfeld”
“Most Jews throughout history have not been free, whether from murderous regimes or famines or pandemics. What we have been is devoted to the idea that we deserve to be.” – Alana Newhouse
This article from which I quoted above is one of my favourites I’ve read recently. In it, Alana Newhouse reflects: “The Passover Seder centers on the experience of being thrust out of our homes, but these days we feel trapped inside of them. The story involves miraculous plagues that saved us; today we pray for the end of one. There’s the commandment to clean our homes of all non-Passover food, which we just spent innumerable hours and dollars hoarding.” Continue reading “We keep celebrating”