Holocaust day is not a day for fashion talk. It’s a day to remember, to look back and to pay respects to the millions of people who lost their lives to the Nazi machine. And also, honor the ones who survived it.
I will always remember my great-grandma, although I never knew her – she decided not to leave Kiev when the Germans arrived and stayed in her home. For that, with her whole family, she was killed at Babi Yar along with 150,000 Ukrainian Jews.
I will always remember my grandpa, although I never got to meet him either – he was killed fighting against the Nazis by Kiev during summer 1941, when my dad was only 4 years old. Until this day, he tears up when talking about him, his only memory is a hug he gave him before he left. It’s very difficult to see my father so emotional.
So on this day, my heart is torn. On this day, I find it fitting to tell you about the Judaism Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow, which I visited on my last visit there and wrote about it here. The museum is very unique, and not because it’s the most technological and interactive, but because it’s the only place to retell the history of former U.S.S.R’s Jews. The history I grew up on, the history you could only whisper about, like anything else Judaism related.
Here, I was presented with a series of evens I previously heard bits and pieces of – about Jewish life at the pale, about horrible pogroms,about what happened during World War 2, about the doctors’ plot after it and about Stalin’s plan to transfer all Holocaust survivors to Sibir, and more historic facts.
It’s hard to explain how seeing my people’s story presented in such detailed and respectful way make me feel, especially at a central building in Moscow, the capital of the huge and then, very anti-Semitic country that was once my home. The country where the world “Jew” had to be said quietly, where I feared that kinds will find me out and laugh at me for being Jewish, where I heard from my non-Jewish friends, more than once: “All the Jews stink! but you are fine”. Where since childhood I knew from my parents that “we’re Jews, people don’t like us”.
I wish all of us and our kids not to understand what I’m talking about and not to know any of it, to live and grow up with our heads up high and proud! And to appreciate the country that allows us to do so – something that I personally will never take for granted. And to never forget all those to whom we owe our existence.
It might sound banal, but it’s from the bottom of my aching heart… always remember.