She turned to me and tears were streaming from her eyes. The thought that someone would say, that she never never felt trauma pierced her deeply. I never meant her, I simply meant, anyone who has not felt that, is lucky.
I was at a Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance event at the Tel Aviv Museum of the Diaspora on the campus of Tel Aviv University. An elderly gentleman who survived the war by pretending to be a Catholic boy at a convent in Belgium. He was on the board of Righteous Among the Nations and after his recounting of his father’s death and his survival, we broke into groups to talk about how we felt. A third were international students studying at NYU program in Dubai and Israel, a third were Israelis and a third were Tel Aviv students and random people.
There is a black girl with a star of david, short hair with top of it bleached told us of her time growing up in Belgium, feeling racism there, feeling lack of any thought to the harm caused in Congo and other colonies. She spoke of her trauma as a Tutsie and that it is ok to deal with it, it is for the perpetrators to feel guild and it is not on the victim to make the perpetrators feel ok.
There was a girl with a German friend whose grandfather was a Nazi, who may have contributed to killing thousands but now the two are friends who had to decide, if it was ok to be friends.
There is an Israeli wearing Teva’s whose Romanian grandparents never got to tell their stories, of relatives dying by being starved. There was a host who translated the Haggadah to her Russian grandparents, realizing that we are all freed slaves.
There was the American blond blue eyed kid, for whom it was the first time hearing a survival story. Who knew that every time someone said “White American without trauma” we meant him and all the white men and women who feel entitled to power and more than equal system that allows them to dole out punishment and then have us feel guilty for daring to make them feel shame.
And the American black girl, who has had decades of repression her skin, of her character and of her story. She can never be fully free in her own country and cannot even express her trauma because white men and women will crush her with hatred for daring to make them think about their actions, about her hurt. Few people on earth feel as downtrodden as the American black people, who face up hill battle to get education, to get a job, to vote and to feel their truth.
I took a bus down the quiet streets of my country. All shops are closed, because on a day that we remember, when half of our people, men and women were born a crime and killed without a trial or a second thought, when we survived, thanks to the fact, that Germany attacked all countries, not just us, a day when bars are closed, cafe’s a still, the city is in a moment of silence for all who died. I think how lucky I am, to be in my country, that is not perfect, surviving did not make us saints, but in my country where I am free, where I am represented, where I am protected. How lucky am I and how important it is, to work to keep that luck, to not lose as my ancestors did, to not end up again, a stranger in a strangers land.
Am Yisrael Chai!