By Sylvie Chmielewski
I’m the daughter of Holocaust survivors. I’m the piece of an unfinished puzzle. I grew up in a family of untold stories and unbearable secrets.
There is almost no trace of life before the war. A few pictures of my mother’s childhood hung sadly on the walls. Any conversation about the past begins with “before”, “during” and “after.” “Before” rhymes with happiness, “during” with hell and “after” with pain.
As I grew older, the common question of “how did you survive” took another turn and the “how” became “why”? Why did six million human beings die and you didn’t? That’s when you stop asking others and you begin asking yourself.
Why did G-d choose these few to survive? Why did He take the life of so many and spared just a few? Does the “How” help to understand the “Why?” Is there a rational answer? Can there be anything rational about a time where all sense of humanity was lost? Do the survivors feel any guilt for coming back when others didn’t have that luck?
I read books; so many of them, trying to understand these human beings who fought to survive. These people that G-d spared.
At first, it seems they all believed they had to return to tell their unthinkable story. They are the sole witnesses of a genocide that no people could ever have imagined. But were WE really willing to listen? Would that really be the purpose of their return?
Does someone come back from hell just to tell his story to a world that in fact doesn’t really care to listen?
What if G-d succeeded in saving the strongest, the healthiest, the luckiest in order to rebuild a nation? What if these human beings, once weeds of the world became the seeds of a new nation?
What if Israel was that unthinkable tree? What if all of us were today the fruits; juicy and tender, ripe and beautiful, tasty and shiny of these once weak and torn seeds?
Yes, we are a nation of proud souls. Yes we have succeeded in becoming a nation walking tall, fearless and strong.
Once the forgotten of the world, we are today the fearless force of a new life.
I’m the daughter of Holocaust survivors. I’m the mother of two incredible children, proud to be Jewish and Israelis.