Shalom Life | April 19, 2015

Three Generations of Holocaust Memory

Father Passes On His Legacy to Next Generation

By: Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich

Published: April 9th, 2013 in News » World

In 2004, I joined the Witnesses in Uniform delegation of 180 IDF officers to Poland. We had the chance to visit some of the major sites of Holocaust memory, including Auschwitz-Birkenau. We also saw the Lodz ghetto – the place where my father was imprisoned during the war.

Every participant on the trip had to spend some time preparing beforehand. I thought that this might be an opportunity to sit down with my father and have him share his experiences with me. He had never spoken about it with me before.

I took him through the entire itinerary of our trip, and I pointed out that we would be passing through the Lodz ghetto. I hoped that he would open up and talk about it. But he didn’t say a word. My father wished me a successful journey, but nothing more than that.

When we got to Lodz, our guides took us to what remains of the ghetto. I tried to imagine my father walking down the street, but I had no information about his time there. I did, however, experience the unique feeling all IDF officers feel when they land in Poland. It’s something I simply couldn’t compare to anything else I’ve done in my life. Our presence there alone was proof that the Nazis failed in their mission to destroy the Jewish people.

The delegation was made up of all types of people – officers young and old, Jewish, Bedouin and Druze. That’s something that makes the IDF a unique military force – we invest not only in protecting the country but also in educating our officers and passing on our heritage and our values from generation to generation.

When I returned from the trip, I sat down again with my father. I showed him all of my pictures, and hoped that he would start talking, but to no avail.

I thought I’d never learn what happened to him, but this year something changed. My daughter was doing a roots project for school, and as part of the coursework she sat down with my father and asked him to tell her his story. For the first time ever, we learned that before the war, he lived in a Polish village called Stieglitz. The Nazis killed all of the Jews who lived there, but he managed to survive.

It’s not unusual for Holocaust survivors to avoid speaking about their experiences. But perhaps it was easier for him to talk to my daughter than it was for him to talk to me. He needed some kind of trigger, and grandchildren are often that trigger. It was finally time for him to pass on his legacy to the next generation.
Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis TrendingLong Island Students Caught Wearing Incredibly anti-Semitic Shirts While Drinking Underage Long Island Students Caught Wearing Incredibly anti-Semitic Shirts While Drinking Underage Trending400 Torontonians Join Jews From Across the Globe in Poland on March of the Living 400 Torontonians Join Jews From Across the Globe in Poland on March of the Living Trending
 

Netanyahu, Amy Schumer, Sarah Koenig and Others Make TIME's 100 Most Influential People

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Netanyahu, Amy Schumer, Sarah Koenig and Others Make TIME's 100 Most Influential People

Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Diane von Furstenberg, Kevin Hart, Lorne Michaels, and many more make the 12th annual list

Read More

Israeli Defense Firm Creates System to Detect Terror Tunnels

April 17, 2015 | By JNS.org
Israeli Defense Firm Creates System to Detect Terror Tunnels

Elbit Systems developed the new tunnel-detection system together with the Israeli Defense Ministry and other partners in Israel

Read More

Rabbis, Mental Health Professionals Holding Conference to Support Young LGBT Jews

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Rabbis, Mental Health Professionals Holding Conference to Support Young LGBT Jews

Conference to be held in Israel this Sunday will bring Orthodox rabbinical community, and the therapeutic community, together in support of LGBT teens

Read More

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Trip to Israel Cost Them $1 Million

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Trip to Israel Cost Them $1 Million

Mind you, they were only there for a couple days

Read More

Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis

April 17, 2015 | By JNS.org
Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis

"Our men, our women, our children [should] always think of kidnapping your soldiers and settlers, wherever they may be"

Read More

You Could Be The Next Goldstar Beer Taste Tester. Seriously.

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
You Could Be The Next Goldstar Beer Taste Tester. Seriously.

The company is need of a new chief beer tester, and is turning to the Israeli public for help

Read More

The Kosher Switch May Not Be So Kosher After All

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
The Kosher Switch May Not Be So Kosher After All

Marketed as a way to keep kosher during the Shabbat, many rabbinical sources fear the Kosher Switch may rely on a Jewish loophole to keep "kosher"

Read More

David Blatt Has NBA's Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

April 17, 2015 | By Bob Jacob/Cleveland Jewish News/JNS.org
David Blatt Has NBA's Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

"It's a great time to be in the city of Cleveland," says the Israeli Head Coach, whose team squares off against the Celtics on Sunday

Read More

More Headlines