Yizkor. Remember. Yet again.


It is more than 80 years since the Holocaust. The child survivors are today elderly men and women. Please G-d, may they be with us for many more years to come.

When we think of Israel, we remember those who gave their lives in our defense, as we should. But do we give enough thought to the injured, many seriously wounded and maimed for life? Presumably, almost all our brave fighters have been traumatized to one degree or another and will require much therapy when this is all over, please G-d soon.

Similarly, I wonder if we’ve given enough attention to those who survived the Holocaust but were also traumatized for life.

My late father, Shimon Goldman, was the sole survivor of his family in Poland. He fled to Vilna and when his Lubavitch yeshivah there received life-saving visas from the legendary Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, he traveled with his fellow students to Moscow and then across Russia to Vladivostok. They took a boat to Kobe, Japan, where they spent a year. In 1941, when Japan joined Nazi Germany in World War II, they moved on to Shanghai, where they spent the rest of the war years until they received visas to go to the United States.

Though orphaned and alone in the world, my father never lost his mind, his faith or his sense of humor. He rebuilt his family and, when he passed away at age 91, he left behind children, grandchildren and 80 great-grandchildren. Today, there are many more, thank G-d.

But does that mean he was not scarred? We don’t have an inkling of his inner trauma.

In his 1950 wedding pictures, he, the bridegroom, isn’t smiling. In 1961, during the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel, he woke up with nightmares screaming, “Eichmann araus!” Outwardly, he was fine, functional and a pillar of his community on many levels. Inwardly? We have no idea.

My friend’s father-in-law also survived Auschwitz and went on to rebuild his family in London, becoming a successful diamond merchant. But whenever he traveled, in his carry-on case together with his tallit and tefillin, there was always one more item he would never travel without — a loaf of bread. As successful as he was, the hunger pangs of Auschwitz remained with him for life.

I once read a story of a man in Talpiot, Israel, who lived in a big, beautiful villa but would collect the leftovers after the Kiddush in shul on Shabbat morning. One day, a little boy in his innocence asked the man directly: “Excuse me, sir; I don’t understand. You have a beautiful home. Why do you need to collect the leftovers?”

The man looked at the boy and replied: “How could you understand? Were you in Auschwitz?”

Can we understand this? Can we — born in freedom and privilege — grasp what they must have lived through for the rest of their lives?

Besides the Six Million who perished, a generation of survivors was scarred for life.

And the world would have us simply forgive and forget!

Today, we see clearly how the past informs the future. Who would have believed possible what is happening now in the United States at “enlightened” universities?

That’s why we dare not allow ourselves the luxury of national amnesia. We can never forget, and we can never tire of remembering the past.

And so, as difficult as it may be, even now, in the throes of another war against the new Nazis of today, we will still remember the Six Million martyrs of the Holocaust and honor their memories.

At the same time, we will pledge to stand strong against every enemy on any battlefield — whether in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Iran, or even against anti-Israel and anti-Jewish protesters on the Ivy League college campuses of America.

When we do, let us also spare a special thought for the traumatized survivors of then and now.