Monday, May 2, 2011

Bin Laden, HItler and Yom Hashoah A Day of Remembrance

Having just returned from Los Angeles from an incredible evening dedicated to remembering the Holocaust, I am struck by the metaphors today. Yes, today we are aware of the brave capture and elimination of one of the worst anti-Semites in our time, Osama Bin Laden- announced on Yom Hashoah, the same day in l945 that Hitler's death was announced. Can it be mere coincidence? Is it " bashert"?
When these things happen, I always feel there is a larger presence in our lives, perhaps G-d had a hand in it, perhaps we are to just be amazed and grateful.

I was invited to share in my dear cousin Cantor Leopold and his wife Isabelle Szneer's honoring at the Chapman University Evening of Holocaust Remembrance. " Metaphors of Memory  A Witness Through the Arts sponsored by The Lodzer Organization of California.
Imagine being in a room with over 100 Holocaust survivors? The faces and some of the stories I was privileged to hear will remain with me forever. I met the youngest member of Schindler's List- I met Leon Weinstein, a Warsaw Ghetto fighter and his daughter, Natalie Weinstein Gold whose story requires a few words so that they remain in your memory as well.
Leon and Sima  Weinstein put a cross on his 17 month old daughter, and placed her with a note on her coat in front of the police station when life was unbearable for Jews and deportations in Warsaw were rampant. He watched from around the corner, the note said the baby was abandoned due to the father's demise as a soldier and the mother not affording food for her. The baby was taken in, and Leon returned to the Warsaw ghetto, and Sima went into hiding. After the war, Leon survived and went by bicycle all over Poland for 6 months searching in orphanages for his little girl. Almost giving up, at the last orphanage, he noticed an emaciated little girl next to a nun- that's my girl.
I spoke to the daughter at the dinner before the remembrance program- I could barely speak through my tears- " How did your father know it was you after those years?"  She had a birthmark on her hip and she remembers a nun pulling her pants down to look at it.
Leon not only survived but went on to a very successful career and is a major philanthropist. He is 101 years old. I will post photos soon of the event and these amazing survivors.

On this day of remembrance, let us remember how brave our people were and how those who survived went on to make this world a better place.