Yesterday, the whole country stopped for two minutes. I was working in the factory and both kids were in school. Adele was driving in Netanya to pick up our driving licenses, (yes we passed), and everyone stopped what they were doing and stood solemnly to remember The Holocaust (Shoah). the break bell had just sounded for me at work and I came up the stairs and stood in the middle of the factory with everyone else that was stopped in their tracks to remember, and more importantly, not to forget. Adele was amazed to see everyone in the city of Netanya come to the windows, the front of their stores, or stop their cars in the middle of the street and step out to stand still as well. She said it was like the twilight zone - but absolutely incredible to witness and be a part of. Since I have been in Israel, I have seen people with a number tattooed on there arm. Maybe in the grocery store or just standing in line at the post office. There are still Holocaust survivors in the world and many are here. I get the chills just thinking about it. This country is absolutely amazing and needs to be experienced and supported at all costs. There is absolutely no place on Earth that could ever take its place.
It is so easy to forget what humanity is capable of as we go about our business. I work at a bench sometimes and sometimes at the next bench over an old German man comes in to work there. He uses a walker to get around and was the first Nagar (Carpenter) at the factory. After I first met him and he found out that I was from the U.S. he was exited to tell me about how he was a prisoner of war in an American P.O.W. camp. I held my breath as he spoke of it for fear of what he would tell me. He was 17 years old and was drafted into the army towards the end of the war. He was very afraid and the Allies were beckoning him to run over to their side in the middle of a battle. He told me that he threw down his weapon and did. As he told me the story, all I could think about was, "what did he do before that? He was 17 then. What did he do when he was 16, or 13? I only say hello and goodbye to him now. When I work at my bench and he is not there, which is most of the time, I find myself wondering if he has passed on. When he does arrive the next time he gives me a smile when I say hello to him, but a weird smile, like he wishes that either he never told me about being in the German army during WW2 or that maybe he wishes it never happened at all.
I have heard many stories from people that were in a camp or people that lost everyone and grew up with out a family. Some were just video clips and some were from friends. What really upsets me though is that for the stories I hear there are countless others that will never be told or heard. The vast number of people that are no longer with us and that were never able to tell their stories is just too overwhelming for me to comprehend. I guess all we can do now is to listen to the people that are still with us and hope that they feel comfortable enough to share their stories with us. Soon, there will be no one left to tell the few stories that remain.
I hung the largest Israeli flag that I could find on the porch today. Next week is Memorial Day and Independence Day follows immediately the next day. I am just floored by this place.
Love to you all,
And try to always be ready to listen,