Search This Blog

Anita Silverman Hirsch Z"l

Thoughts about the Earthquake in Haiti

As I watch the unfolding of the events in Haiti, I feel numb. I was not alive in 1945 but I think to myself this is what the coverage of the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima would have been like, only much worse due to the tremendous pain caused by burning flesh:

As much as nature’s cruelty is awesome, I am reminded that man’s can be worse. I was born after the second world war, but my parents survived the Nazi onslaught in Hungary, both the invading armies, German and Russian, and the Nazi drive to exterminate Jews and others deemed “inferior”, gypsies, the handicapped, democrats, communists, and all those who did not support the Nazi ideology which lasted over ten years from 1933 - 1945. I have spent my life trying to understand how something like the Nazi death factories, also known as concentration camps, could have actually been put into place by the likes of Eichmann, Hitler, and Goering, and the silent acquiescence of those who did not speak up to oppose them. Is it only me who is thinking of Ahmedinajad and his threat to "wipe Israel off the map?", the same Ahmedinajad who is using Hitlerian strategies against her own people, torturing and imprisoning those who would protest, and actively seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

I was listening to a radio program on bullying, and it appears that bullying can be easily stopped if even one bystander speaks up against it. This has to be taught to our children the most fearfully affected by bullying in our time: but we all need to know it and governments need to understand this as well: We must not acquiesce to the bullying of Iran or Al Quaeda wherever they find safe haven.

On Sunday the day after the earthquake I joined an internet gratitude site. Yesterday morning, they sent me a notice asking why I had not posted anything. As much as I wanted to, I was numb: and then as I left the house yesterday morning on my way to a rehearsal with my camera equipment: (I am videotaping the process of the creation of a play on exactly this theme: being aware of history in order not to repeat it: connaîitre l’histoire pour ne pas se conter des histoires: Initiated by a class of autistic boys and girls, and jointly produced by them and several non-autistic boys and girls from the same school, école de la Magdeleine in Brossard and a group of boys and girls from Herzliyah High school in Montreal, suddenly the following words came to me:

Moda ani lefaneha, Melech Hai ve Kayam, shehehezarta bi nishmati behemlah, rabah emunateha (and my friend Miriam Ohevetel adds the word bi.)

I am grateful to You, Living and Ongoing Source of All, for restoring my breath,(my soul) to me this morning. How great is your compassion and courageous faith: and my friend Miriam adds the word “bi” Hebrew for “in me”.

This is the formula for the start of all morning Jewish prayer. And I felt the revival of my spirit, the sudden revival of hope that is so necessary especially in the darkest of times. I am still here and I can do good in this world. for more on this theme of irrational hope in the darkest times see Rabbi Steinmetz' five minute you tube talk

I grew up with the stories of my family – their courageous attempts to save themselves and those around them during the ten plus years of the Nazi onslaught:

There was the German soldier who waved my mother away from the ghetto where German soldiers were rounding up Jews.

The Hungarian couple, Gozon neni and Gozon baci who found work for my aunt Lilly as a maid with a Hungarian family, and accepted my teenage uncles to stay in his home when they escaped the Nazi soldiers who were marching their school group through Budapest saying to anyone who asked, “these are our cousins visiting us from the country.” I visited the home of this dear man, five years ago when I and my sister Anita and her two sons Noam and Yair and their wives, Maya and Ilana, visited Hungary with my Mom, Edith, who was then in her eighties. During the war, Gozon baci was the superintendant of a small apartment building in fashionable Buda on the way to the national park overlooking the Danube, which still exists with its monuments and overlook, and which had been the billeting site for the German army. Gozon baci’s daughter was dating a German officer and he would come to the house.

All these people, my aunt Lilli, my aunt Margit, my uncles,Tibi, and André as well as my dear Mother, Edith are alive today due to the bravery of this man and his wife and sister. Sadly Gozon neni and Gozon baci and even their children are long gone, but their memory will always be with me and with my family, and I hope through this blog with you.

I have more to share about my experiences of yesterday: About my discussion with the Morrocan Moslem cab driver who drove me to Herzliya who could recall the earthquake in Agadir:...

About the first full rehearsal with the all of the students and with Andre Michel, and Alby, an African Canadian singer, both participants in the same play. More postings on this as we proceed.

And about reading the tribute to Raoul Wallenberg with my Mom, the very same day from her computer in her own home.

I had a very full day:

But these will be the next instalments.

And also watch for the posting of an interview by Sonia Sarah Lipsyc with Rabbi Sandy Sasso, a celebrated author of children’s books dealing with childrens’ understanding of G-d and the Jewish tradition and also one of the first female rabbis in the United States which we hope to share with you as a video post.

Let us all work to increase peace, hope, and love in this world.

Together we can make a difference.


Abigail Hirsch

No comments: