In the our society we are split in many camps. People who believe that the Holocaust happened. People who think it is an elaborate conspiracy theory. People who believe Jews deserved what they got – after all they are just money grubbing, Christ-killers. People who believe that it happened, but could never happen again. People who are silent because it makes them uncomfortable. People who pray but not much faith in their own petitions.
I’m not sure when I became so fascinated…..(the connotation of the word “fascinated” seems inappropriate……..perhaps “compelled” is a better choice}…….when I became so compelled to devour everything associated with these – basically – 12 (interesting number Biblically) years of German history: 1933-1945. Was it the soldier stories I inadvertently heard while I was supposed to be sleeping during late night parties? The teacher/preacher who had been a POW in GermanY? The Bible stories that mentioned the word “Jew” over and over? The diary of a young girl who did not live through her brief time in a concentration camp? The nightmares that haunted my dreams with a siren sound echoing over and over? Which ever it was – it started me on a journey that has never stopped. I’m still compelled.
Since I’m no longer teaching a Holocaust unit, I had forgotten that this was the week of Holocaust Remembrance. However, my subconscious (Or what I truly believe is the work of the Holy Spirit), kept me on schedule. Today, I realized that all week my devotions have been leading me to this particular place of remembrance, and I “hafsakah” (paused) before Jehovah Sabboth.
How many prayers did they offer during this persecution? How many lost their faith totally? How many tears fell upon the earth as their eyes beheld the evil in front of them? How many remained silent in the face of the evil that looked upon them with it’s terrifying, yellow eyes?
They were people like us. Elie Wiesel expresses it well in his first book, NIGHT – when his father brushed off the wearing of a yellow star on their clothes saying that they wouldn’t die of it. Elie replies from his grown-up vantage point, “Of what then did we die, Father?” People who went along because it wasn’t too bad at the beginning, People who were too wrapped up in lives to notice. People who hid their heads under their Yellowed-stared coats and hoped it would pass quickly. People like us.
As I pray my own prayers tonight, I think about those prayers they must have offered. Prayers that their homes would be safe. Prayers that it wouldn’t be as bad as they had begun to suspect. The Prayers of Psalms that they repeated in the darkness of a crowded cattle car swarming with smells and acts that paralyzed their vocal chords. Prayers for those missing or separated from them as German soldiers pointed their guns and yelled, “Snell, snell”. Jewish prayers for the dead…Kaddish.
Tonight one of my friends shared a Josh Groban recording of one of my favorite broadway songs that is in the form of a prayer. A prayer that is still echoing around the world today. A prayer that – perhaps tonight- Christ sings on our behalf….”God on high hear my prayer
in my need you have always been there….
he is young
let him rest
bring him home…….”