As the sirens begin to wail and continue for two full minutes, I witness people getting off their bikes, stopping in their tracks while cars and buses also halt wherever they are. People bow their heads and I find the space to feel the loss of my father, a Holocaust survivor of eight Nazi forced labor camps, who recently died. I am in Israel. So while some may view Israel, a country bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt as a place of violence and terror, I see nothing but beauty in a land that was created for displaced Jews. I murmur a prayer for the dead, for my father who made survival his art.
Nine days after my father left his physical body, I booked a trip to Israel to rejuvenate and Poland to seek out my heritage, to visit my ancestral shtetl. I want to see where my father lived with his seven siblings, mother and father in a one-bedroom apartment in Bedzin, Poland in my quest as a redemption narrative, going beyond what I know.
My sojourn began in a suburb called Ramat Hasharon to be with my mother’s brothers’ family. I spent the morning swimming with my cousin in a outdoor sea water swimming pool in the Sharon Hotel in Herzliya overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, which revitalized me from the jet lag I was in.
Now I am part of a day to memorialize the tragedies of the Holocaust. We stand in remembrance for our families and for those we never knew. The Knesset in Israel made Yom Hashoah a national public holiday in nineteen fifty nine and a law was passed in nineteen sixty one that closed all public entertainment on this day.
As Neo-Nazis have once again been legalized in Europe, openly sitting in parliaments, I, along with the people next to me, bow my head in silence as the tears run down my face. I needed this experience to help me feel and clear out the sadness from losing my father.
And now the best part of returning to Israel, a mission to find the best hummus. My uncle brought us to a local favorite restaurant that is on the border of Ramat Hasharon and Tel Aviv called Dagim 206. Their hummus gets a ten. Goiked!
“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien