Monday, May 2, 2011

Update - holocaust memorial day

Looking out from this perch i see the walls of the Old City, the buildings of the modern Jerusalem, and in the distance, a valley as old as time, filled with history. We look back through time and see the blood spilled, the tears shed, the people conquered, and brief moments of revelation and joy. But over it all is cast a pallor of war. Death and loss, pain echoing down nerves spun of memory and hope that we will avoid such catastrophe again.

Today is the day in Israel when we remember and mourn the holocaust. At ten am a horn sounded throughout Israel and everywhere, everyone stopped. And stood. In silence for one minute. I was with the HUC crowd, for a prayer service after which we all went outside for the moment. Standing on the street corner the horn sounded, and quickly everyone realized to be quiet. A bus pulled over in front of us and stopped. At first i was dismayed to be assaulted by the fumes and sound if it's chugging diesel, but then i saw inside, it was still and everyone was standing. I looked around, and construction workers stopped their pounding, and stood facing the walls of the Old City, shopkeepers and customers came outside, and stood in mutual silence.

Time stretched, everywhere I looked people stopped, standing, heads bowed or eyes east, the wailing of the horn a voice for a nation. Remembering our loss. Feeling a mutual pain and hoping for a future without a fear of this ever happening again.

I must go back now a few hours to the walk into campus before the service. As we walked we were joined by classmate and friend Jay Levine who told us the news about the death and recovery of the body of the tyrant and murder Osama BinLaden.

Can you sense this emotional connection already? I was feeling it more each moment as we sat and stood praying for life, and remembering our loss during the service for the memorial day. Today we have finally ended the tyranny of a madman, the news dumped on me without a moment to consider, celebrate, mourn, or even realize. And it struck me, how the news of killing Hitler might have felt, how the relief of the end of such disaster as the holocaust would have been received. Did we Americans just receive our recompense for 9/11? Is Osama the murder's welcome end the American version of an end we Jews were denied by Hitler's pathetic suicide?

I ponder. I have wanted the death of Osama for many years, which is an unusual thing for me. Justice and compassion must always temper our thinking, but this murderer deserved tenfold the pain he inflicted upon innocent victims. And now here it arrives, on a day we mark in Israel as the day of mourning, an event that must be venerated if not celebrated. A modern day tyrant wiped from the earth, and we are all better off without him.

Closure will never exist for the victims, and the relatives of the victims of the holocaust. There is no way to rationally understand or come to terms with such awful destruction and despicability. It is inhuman. And the numbers from that disaster defy sense as well. It is a wound that cannot heal, it is a dismemberment of history and of faith in humanity.

We Americans however have finally killed the tyrant Osama. Closure can and will come. We can and will win this war, and we can heal and move on. The buildings can be rebuilt, and sense can be restored. I will celebrate this act of violence toward the murderer, as i would imagine the murder of Hitler would have been celebrated as well. And i will mourn the loss of generations of Jews, Gypsies, Russians, Europeans, Asians, and Americans. All at once in a maelstrom of emotion only a stiff drink can resolve.

In my heart, all of this and all of you; sufferers, soldiers, celebrators, and strangers. May we move on, may we move forward, and end chapters of tyranny, murder, suffering, and sadness, and write new chapters of collaboration, progress, and peace.

- with Shalom from Israel

Location:Jerusalem, Israel

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