My husband, Thomas Dov Berger, was born in Israel and lived there until he was nine years old. I spoke with him earlier today (he’s away on a business trip) and asked him to put down his thoughts about Yom Hashoah. It’s a much different memorial in Israel than it is here in the States. Here, let him tell you…
At 10am today, did you hear sirens?
At 10am did cars stop on the freeways? Did trains stop in their tracks? Did planes stop on taxiways?
At 10am, did everyone stop what they were doing, stand at attention, and for two minutes, while the sirens wailed, remember the six million dead?
Imagine, if you can, growing up in a country, as I did, where you set aside a day to remember your ancestors who were murdered in a systematic and industrial manner. There are no barbeques on this day, there are no white sales on this day. This is a day for reflection and quiet. This day forces you to come to terms with everything about your beliefs and your heritage and that you, as a people, were almost wiped completely from the face of the earth.
This day, Yom HaShoah, marks the beginning of a week of remembrance that culminates with Yom Hazikaron, Israeli memorial day, our day for remembering our war dead, and ends with Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day.
Yom HaShoah is the day to remember the grandfather I never knew, my mom’s father, the father she never knew [killed by Nazis a couple months before she was born in a concentration camp]. I also remember the countless relatives whose names I will never know, who are simply gone, without a trace, without a marker.
Most of all, however, this day reminds me that I should never forget, and I should never forgive. And I hold that feeling to this day, in this country, where I am sitting in my hotel room, 2500 miles away from my family, preparing for my work day, where as I proceed through my business meetings and presentations to clients, everyone around me will have no idea what this day means to me. I hold it inside. I keep it to myself. And I remember: לא נשכח ולא נסלח