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Never Again

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It was a great crowd. Jews of every age. A few children hanging onto their mothers, lots of teenagers and young adults, and plenty of gorwn ups. Some clean shaven, some bearded. Some wearing kipot and hats, some don’t. They are from all walks of life, making the march from Auschwitz to Birkenau. An elderly man started to hum Ani Ma’amin, I Believe with Perfect Faith. A teenage boy raised the Israeli flag above his head, letting the wind get caught in it, flying the flag strong and proud.

It was the March of the Living.

Many many thousands made many of the death marches from their homes to certain death as part of the “final solution” during the Nazi regime. 70 years ago this year many of my relatives made this same march. A few lived, most perished. They were killed for the sole reason of being Jewish. Thousands were murdered for being Roma, Communits, disabled, or gay. Others were killed for trying to hide the persecuted. So many sensless deaths!

One of the most powerful parts of the exhibit in Auschwitz is in one of the baracks, displaying the belongings of the victims, that were stored, resold or reused by the Nazis. One display shows thousands of shoes. It always reminded me of the memorial in Budapest: shoes on the quay by the Danube, shoes of Jews who were shot into the water by Hungarian Arrow Cross people.

Today, in 2014, anti-semitism is on the rise in Hungary and elsewhere in the world again. Was 70 years enough to forget?

At sunset today Yom. HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance day begins. The flag of the State of Israel will be lowered to half mast. Six survivours will light six torches in memory of the six million. At the synagogue we have a special prayer meeting, and we recite the mourner’s kaddish, for those millions who had no one left to do it for them.

 

7 Quick Takes – 17

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— 1 —

I bought a new phone! Yes. Not state of the art, it is Android and it only has JellyBean, but it is a lot better than my previous phone. My only complaint is the battery life, because while it would last forever in stand by mode, playing Minion Rush kind of drains it baaaaad. But yeah, for now I’m super happy to have it. 🙂 I already added some music and more apps than I’ll ever use, and yes, Farmville 2 works with it! It also has a better camera (which i won’t be using much, I suspect) and nicer, bigger screen. Yes, I’m happy. Please refer back to this post in six months when I express my undying hatred for my phone.

— 2 —

So being briefly abroad… I had this.
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After weeks of coffee free existence I had the best raspberry latte with an ice cube. Of course I know Starbucks is not the best coffee, but it was nice enough as a dessert. Because let’s admit it: a shot of coffee with milk, syrup and whipped cream is a dessert, not a coffee.

By the way, here is a podcast about the coffee culture in Israel.

— 3 —

yellowstarSunday evening marks the beginning of Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel. The International Holocaust Memorial Day, commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camps. It is held on the 27th of Nisan (or a day before or after). On Sunday in Budapest the local March of the Living will be held. Today (Thursday) four of my teenagers left for Poland to participate in the March of the Living event in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

This year there is a special theme that makes it even more personal to my children (though none of those who are travelling this year are Hungarian or my biological children): one of the themes of this year’s event is the fate of Hungarian Jewry. 70 years ago this year, 600 000 of Europe’s most assimilated and very patriotic Jews were deported and killed in a few short months. We shall remember them this coming Sunday, and recite the Mourner’s Kiddush for them–for those, who had no one left to recite it for them.

— 4 —

Today I had the best meal: stuffed lamb chops with eggs and fresh vegetables. It is a typical Easter meal in Transylvania, at least among the Hungarians there, but the other ethnic groups also eat variants of it.

2014-04-21 12.21.04Being mistaken for an American, I was told that I probably don’t want to know what the stuffing is made from. I informed the lady at the food truck that I was Irish, and we eat most everything in a sheep, and what we don’t eat we wear, so she provided a link to the recipe, and I was right: it included lots of different internal organs of the lamb, and thus it was delicious. I need to find a recipe for it and share it with the adventorous eaters and cooks.

— 5 —

This past week I was asked several times if Easter had a corresponding Jewish holiday. That reminded me that a) I need to send my friend this book, or b) I need to start blogging more seriously about my experience with Judaism. Would anyone be interested if I did the latter? If yes, what would you like to know more about?

— 6 —

Oh yes. I always feel shocked that someone could write m thoughts perfectly about Israel… Well, my thoughts and ambivalence and duality of feelings and everything.

— 7 —

Last week I posted my Quick Takes here. I also posted a domestic misadventure making cold porcelain and a recipeforof how to make very deviled eggs with the kids. It was a blogging heavy week! I hope to update with the second attempt of making cold porcelain over this weekend. And I will really post that recipe soon, I just ran into some problems. Most of those are fixed now.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

They Dreamt, Too

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I got a photo in my email from my great-aunt Lina.

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My great-uncles Benjámin (Béni) and András (Bandi) and great-aunt Katalin (Lina) cca. 1942

The picture is of the three youngest children of my great-grandparents: 16-year-old Béni, 15-year-old Lina and 19-year-old Bandi. The youngest three of 8 children, the only ones still living at home. Lina and Béni were students at the Jewish high schools, Bandi, unable to attend university because of the laws limiting Jews’ rights at that time, was a labourer at a pharmaceutical factory.

They had their dreams: Béni wanted to return to the Piarist high school where he had been educated before the war, to become a mathematician. Lina dreamt of a career in music, and Bandi, oh, handsome and smart Bandi wanted to become a doctor like their father. He wanted to charm ladies, get married, raise a family. Béni wanted to go to the cinema, to the dance hall, and to enjoy the summers by the lake Balaton, maybe to make aliyah and help build a Jewish state in what then was the British Mandate of Palestine. Lina’s hopes were that their father would let her go skating with the handsome boy from Bandi’s graduating class.  She wanted to travel to Paris and Rome, to see Toscana and the Greek Islands. She also hoped that with all the older children living elsewhere, she’d finally get a room she didn’t have to share with her brothers.

Instead of getting her own room, Lina soon found herself living in an apartment in the Budapest ghetto, with 21 other people. Her brothers taken to forced labour, her family was torn apart. News of deportations from the countryside reached Budapest. And one day they came for them.

Three years after the photo above was taken Béni and Bandi were dead, killed simply because they were Jews. Their sister Böbe and their eldest brother were also killed. Béni’s grave has never been found, the others perished in concentration camps, their bodies cremated. There is nowhere to leave a stone for them. There is nowhere to visit them. The handsome boy from Bandi’s class is buried in a mass grave somewhere far from his home.

They are remembered today by those handful of people who knew them and who are still alive. For the rest of us their memory is a lot less vivid: we know their names, their faces, the stories we were told about them. We might be so lucky as to have read their own words, their own thoughts. But they are becoming history, numbers in a statistic about those killed in the Holocaust.

Béni and Bandi. The handsome boy Lina had a crush on. The Roma family who sold wooden products to my great-grandparents. The young Communist from Grandpa’s office. The middle aged gay lovers who frequented the Operetta Theatre. The young cousin of the pope emeritus, who had Down Syndrome. The Blessed Sára Salkaházy, who stood up to the Arrow Cross militia… and millions of others, viciously killed for being Jewish, Roma, Communist, gay, disabled, or helping any of those people. Let’s remember them tonight, and tomorrow as the sirens sound all across Israel.

From sunset today till nightfall tomorrow it’s Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Yom HaShoah

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Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. For two minutes the sirens make life stop all over Israel.

Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust rememberance day

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At ten o’clock the siren sounds…

…and the city stops. The cars stop, engines turned off. The people stop. The knife rests, vegetables can wait to be chopped. The pencil stays still, worksheets can wait to be filled out.

The siren sounds and we pause to think of those who perished in the Shoah… in the Holocaust. We remember…

The video contains well known images from Holocaust. Just be aware before you play it.

Never again.

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