I never knew you, sadly, but I know what you prayed for.
What was it like for you at your last Seder when you raised the glass of wine and sang “She Stood” (VeHee Shehamda). The blessing – “Blessed is He who keeps His promise to Israel”. Did you feel that this cup of wine that represents “Saved” meant the rescue of our people – then too or did you envision it for a broader time?
When Holocaust Memorial Day comes around I try to not go in my mind to the mass grave you were thrown into after being shot alongside most of your children and neighbors. More, I think about how you felt before it happened, and even before that terrible time. I imagine in the little time you had for praying you held the siddur so close to your heart and uttered the things our family has asked for from time immemorial. Urgently as days progressed.
I never knew you but when I prepare for festivals , I often think of you doing so with your large family. There was plenty of merrymaking, always games being played probably. You were a balabusta. How large were your pots? Did they just expand as the family did? What kind of decorations did you use in your Sukka? Did you hang a wreath of white flowers on your door on Shavuot and how was the Seder? Did you make your own Chanukah candles? The scope of your life was your family and your Jewishness, so many reasons to celebrate! What were your delights Grandma? My father, your son, remembered the apples baked in an open bonfire in Autumn, a delicious scent etched in his memory.
I think of you after every birth, my own and my children’s – (our family is growing B”H!) !How was your recovery? Did they do C sections in those days? You can never have enough experience, even after delivering ten children! How strong you must have been! Who doted on you? Did you have cozy slippers to step into? Did you have a midwife or go to a hospital? What indulgences did you have or want? Did you like coffee tea or hot chocolate? What was your favorite color? There are so many little things I will never know.
I think of you every Shabbat candle lighting time. It was your quiet time, a time of peace and appeal. What tune did you recite liturgy in? Did you sing under your breath or out loud? Did you relax at home or go to shule? Where is your prayer book? I never saw a picture of you but I know you from what you said: “Thank You” for,- home sweet home -and from what you asked for-a home sweet home-!. Were you like me, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst? We are probably similar. We are mothers in a nation of survivors.
Grandma- You did have friends. One of them saved your son’s life and in that merit, the second generation of holocaust survivors became a part of the TEKOOMAH- here in us- in your family- and as the family grows now here in the Land you prayed for, the evidence of your supplications answered, warrants a consolation on this day. I don’t have a locket from you but I have something that helps me remember you always. It is the keepsake, the token of affection and remembrance of Hashem in His mercy that He has given us, our family, our friends –It is the rescue and return you so prayed for: Home. This is my keepsake of you and yours of me.
Zacharia 8/4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts- Old men and women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with the staff in his hand because of age. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.”