My mom spent eleven months in Auschwitz. She watched her parents get machine-gunned before her. Has bullet scars on both sides of her breasts. She survived the ghetto, and was one of the young people chosen to work in a suitcase factory until the ghetto was liquidated on September 18, 1943.
After the liquidation was completed (and I don’t know where she was during that time), she was forced to drag out all the bodies from the apartments in the town in which she was born and grew up. After all the bodies were removed, she, along with the other young people left, were made to take all the furnishings and belonging to the ghetto residents outside, to be loaded onto Nazi trucks and taken to Germany.
She was angry and afraid and emotions I’ve never understood since the day I was born. She was easy in telling tales, tales I couldn’t stop asking about — and couldn’t block out of my mind.
I’ve thought about her scar, and the blurred blue ink underneath, since I was old enough to touch her arm.
I want your number, mom —
then burned away
I need the number
for each family lost
by each family serving
This is no covenant
I claim this covenant everlasting
between me and my uncles and aunts
This is a covenant between
This covenant is to teach and remind
how god did not Pass us Over
and heard not the helpless cries from ghettos
This covenant is to preach
I pray for wisdom to battle hate
I bind my mind with t’fillin of discipline of the hand
I mourn destructions and deaths in dirge and sirens
And celebrate Warsaw rebellions, Maccabean redemptions
Engage in pilpul and hevruta among
practice the arts of understanding
|Baruch anachnu hasordimba’alei zikaron k’dosheinu asher kidashnu et atzmeinul’sherut ameinu la’ad||Blessed are we the survivors masters and owners of our martyrs’ memories who have consecrated ourselves to our people’s service forever|
Yom Ha’Shoah Ve’Hagvurah
April 19, 2001
 Eternal flame, a light of remembrance
 Groups of students who learn together, or Jewish Reconstructionist congregations
 Small congregations of Orthodox or Ultra-Orthodox Jews meeting is small synagogues or family homes
 Leather phylacteries, leather straps and parchment boxes worn on the arm and head during daily prayers by Orthodox Jews
 Argumentative give-and-take used to understand and learn an academic point
 A pair or group of students learning together
 Holocaust and Heroism (Remembrance) Day