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Gratitude on Yom HaShoah

  • April 7, 2021

The author’s family members in Austria, 1929. L-R: Siblings Chana (Anna), Surel (Sarah), an unnamed sister and the author’s great-grandfather Shaya Streit; center, their father Yankel Streit. Anna and the unnamed sister, along with a brother, Max, were murdered in the Buchavina, Romania, in 1941.

Guest blog by Sue Parker Gerson, Senior Associate Director, ADL Mountain States Region

 

It may seem strange to entitle a blog post “Gratitude on Yom HaShoah” when we are anything but thankful for the horror that was the Holocaust, including the decimation of civil liberties that paved its way, the loss of 6 million Jewish and 5 million other souls, and the unimaginable trauma suffered by generations of families torn apart by its ravages. And yet, grateful is the mindset I attempt to employ every year on Yom HaShoah.

As a senior associate regional director for the Mountain States Region of ADL and as a lifelong Jewish educator, I take Holocaust remembrance and education as a professional responsibility. As the great great grand-niece of three siblings who were dragged from their homes, forced to strip and stand in front of a pit into which they were machine-gunned to death as part of the so-called “Holocaust by Bullets,” and as the sister-in-law of a second-generation survivor whose father and grandparents were the only three survivors of an extended family of 60, it is also very personal.

And so, every year on Yom HaShoah, I spend the day wrapped in intentional gratitude for the things that I – as an American Jew living in a time of relative peace, prosperity and privilege – can be thankful for.

When I wake up on Yom HaShoah in my comfortable bed next to my life partner from whom I have not been separated, in a home that we own that has not been confiscated, and drink hot coffee made from real coffee beans, I will be grateful. I will be grateful that, in a time of COVID-19, I have access to medical care should I need it, and the opportunity to continue working at a meaningful job that I love from the comfort of my home. I have access to the Internet because I have not been forbidden to listen to broadcasts telling me the news of the world. I will be grateful that my adult children and my two precious grandchildren had the freedom of movement to travel to my home to wait out the viral storm.

As the day goes on and I enjoy access to delicious and healthy food, warm clothing to wear no matter what the Colorado weather brings, and countless opportunities for education and entertainment, I will be grateful. And when the yahrzeit candle that I have lit the previous evening finally goes out, I will vow in the memory of my three ancestors, my brother-in-law’s 60 relatives, and the other millions of victims of the Shoah, that I will continue to work with everything I have so that NEVER AGAIN remains the goal for us all.