It has been almost five months since my return from a trip to Berlin and Poland, and I still have difficulty speaking about it. While I have the vocabulary to describe what I saw, there are no words that come close to describing what I feel. I took the trip because I am the educator for Holocaust Legacy Fellows, the inaugural program of the recently established Holocaust Legacy Foundation, co-directed by Jody Kipnis and Todd Ruderman. Sixteen Fellows, the co-directors and I visited three death camps – Treblinka, Auschwitz, and Majdanek – mass graves, and other sites directly related to the Holocaust.
I think about the growing pit in my stomach, something that was planted during the trip. At times I fear the pit in my stomach will never stop growing, because what was planted is nourished, like a cancer, by ongoing anti-Semitism at home and around the world. No wonder the pit is always with me.
Seven days a week I am locked in, where I work and where I pray; like being locked-in can somehow keep evil away.
So many lessons were learned on the Holocaust Legacy Fellows trip. The most important for me is the realization the capacity for inhumanity is the greatest threat to humanity itself. This is why it is important to remember not to forget. Auschwitz and other hells on earth serve as those visible reminders that we must remember not forget.
The community is invited to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day event on Monday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. at Temple Ner Tamid in Peabody. Reflections of Auschwitz then and now will be shared, and memorial prayers for the victims of the Holocaust will be recited. Please join us to remember and mourn the victims of the Holocaust.
The program is free and all are welcome. Sponsors are Lappin Foundation, Holocaust Legacy Foundation and Temple Ner Tamid.
Deborah L. Coltin