It has been over one month since we finished my tour with you, our listeners and supporters, in the southern United States. As some of you may know, today is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah). Today, we remember the millions of lives lost to the genocidal hatred of the Nazi Party, who rose to party in Germany in 1933. Today, the Jewish population of the world stands at 13.5 million. The Jewish population in 1933 was 16.7 million. We have still not recovered. Holocaust survivors continue to tell their story, yet there will soon be a time when no one is left to speak, as Holocaust survivors continue to pass away each day. As I sit in my living room, watching the official ceremony commemorating the Holocaust, I wish to share an experience I had on my tour. In honor of the memory of so many, I have recorded a song "Eili, Eili", which embodies the hope and the prayer that our world will keep going. I invite you to listen, as you continue reading.
When I was in New Orleans, Orit and I spoke to the Senior Citizen group at the Jewish Community Center. I spoke of my powerful experience going to Israel's Holocaust museum as a soldier in the IDF, knowing that because of people like me, the Jewish people will never fall to such threat again. Just outside the very room we spoke was a miniature statue that looked like this:
The statue standing outside that room was an exact replica of the statue you see above, placed at Yad Vashem (Israel's holocaust museum). In New Orleans, there was no plaque or sign that shared the story of the man above with his children, so I shared his story with the group that day. On this day, I would like to share the story of that man with you as well. The following text was taken from the website of a group of Ukranian children, who even in our days, called him their hero.
Life is the most precious gift, and the Hero is the one who gives it for the others. Yanush Korchak, Polish kid's writer, is the right person to prove that. And now, when the Second World War is so far away, we should remember those who showed the complete courage and heroism having just one goal - to make somebody feel less bitter.Yanush Korchak was the help of his love and understanding. Korchak opened the door to childhood - and left it wide open for us in his books. So, as we've already told, in those times he was principle of a school for Jewish kids who lost their parents. Every day he had to think what food he would give them, living in the occupied Warsaw. But also the other aim of an old doctor was to make his kids happy during the Second World War. The Nazis decided to send poor Jewish children to the Treblinka death camp - maybe, the worst place you can imagine. That was the place where grownups, and - lots of children - were to be killed as those who were of no use for their new world. And the principle followed his students in their last journey...
Yanush Korchak had a chance to run away: a Nazi officer, who used to read his books being a child himself, wanted to rescue him and told the writer to leave the train to Treblinka and go away. But the man called Yanush Korchak could not betray the kids who needed the last warm words. So they all took their places on the Death train... Some time later all the children with their old principle went to die in the gas chamber. They were among other 300,000 children murdered there by the Nazis!There are lots of really nice people on this planet. But there are some of them who were living angels for those who needed their love and care even more than life. Yanush Korchak is our hero and we really hope that he can be a Hero for everyone.
One and a half months after my experience with you, I am reminded of the importance of the work that we do. We, the people of Israel and the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, continue to stand tall and prove day after day that we are not going anywhere. No amount of hate or threat to our existence will stop us from continuing to live and to create new life and strive to respect all those who exist within our borders. We, the former soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, will continue to come with StandWithUs and share our stories year after year, reaching even more people with our message of the daily struggle to live safely in our homeland.
The experiences that we shared together in February are experiences that will remain a part of my life forever and each one of you has become a piece of the beautiful mosaic created by the Israeli Soldier Stories Tour of 2013.
All my love,