yom ha shoah

During WWII, Irena got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.

Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.

Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi’s broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, In a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. 
She was not selected. 
Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming.

Three years ago I was fortunate enough to travel to Poland to visit and bear witness to the concentration and death camps that Hitler and his Nazis set up during World War II.

My grandmother and her entirely family were imprisoned in Auschwitz for three years. At just 21 years old she was taken away from her home town in Czechoslovakia and shipped like cattle to Auschwitz. She worked hard, long hours against her will as a salve to her Nazi commanders fearing for her life every day. A fate similar to every other Jew, Roma, homosexual, and political prisoner captured. Luckily for her, she survived along with three out of her seven siblings.

Today we remember the six million innocent Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust, and those who survived. It is so important that we bear witness to these atrocities to prevent this awful act of genocide for ever happening again. As the last generation to personally know Holocaust survivors we have even more responsibility to carry on their stories and bravery.

In memory of 1950, 1949 and all others who made it out, and for the millions who did not.


A Jewish Morticia. Morticia growing up, going to Hebrew school, learning Hebrew and Yiddish. Morticia learning to kasher meat, to make chicken soup and gefilte fish and matzah balls and sufganyot. Morticia going to shul and joining the choir and being bat mitzvah, learning her Torah portion is Ezekiel 37 (dry bones) and being very happy about it. (Later, when the time comes to engage a butler, she meets a zombie named Lurch, thinks of that portion, and hires him immediately.) Morticia learning about pogroms, the blood libel, the Holocaust, vowing to remember the difference between being odd/macabre and being evil. Morticia meeting Gomez and accidentally speaking Yiddish to him for the first time. Morticia hosting open house Chanukah parties and seders, welcoming anyone who comes, making her own latkes and brisket and matzah balls. Morticia teaching Wednesday and Pugsley to light Shabbos candles and bake challah and keep kosher. Morticia and her family lighting yahrzeit candles, going to shul and the local Holocaust remembrance center on Yom Ha Shoah. Morticia making p’tcha (calf’s foot aspic) and shaping it like squid and octopus so her children can halachically eat shellfish (and tentacles). Morticia asking her rabbi if Wake the Dead violates k’vod ha met (respect for the dead). Morticia cleaning cemeteries for k’vod ha-met. Morticia giving money to fund schools and synagogues and food banks and homeless shelters. Morticia agreeing to let Wednesday dance naked in any town square she chooses but only AFTER she finishes her education. Morticia watching Wednesday and Joel together, hand weaving the chuppah for their inevitable wedding day. Morticia.


Yom Ha Shoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day

For my late grandfather, who survived Bergen Belsen, and unfortunately died before I was born.

For my darling grandmother, the queen of my heart, who was sold to Russian soldiers at age 12, who saw her father beaten to death at age 14, who never remarried after my grandfather died.

For my mother, the spirit of Israel, who raised me to know who I am and how deep my roots go.

For me, bearing the torch. 

For my son, a Fourth Generation Survivor, who will have to bear it too.

My People, remember that the torch is not a burden - it is a light. We are a light among nations. This is our responsibility.

I worked at an Assisted Living Facility/Retirement Community for a year in high school, and perhaps the most difficult resident there was an elderly and unfortunately demented Jewess. She could hardly remember what meal she was eating when, but every day without fail, no matter how sweltering the heat, she wore a red cardigan to cover up the numbered-stain she received on her forearm as a girl in Auschwitz.

She was very impatient. She never simply “asked” for things, but never quite demanded them either. No, she pleaded. Begged us, with a level of desperation in her voice that didn’t quite fit the request, to quickly bring her a banana or a cup of warm cranberry juice because the cold hurt her teeth. Always as if she was afraid she would once more be denied the right to food. Always as if, in her dementia, she was afraid she would be returned to the barbed wire cage in which she lost her everything. Her sister was shot and killed in front of her. The rest of her family was gassed, their remains unceremoniously dumped in a pond. The rest of her life was lived in fear.

Here’s to her lost family, and to the families of so many more millions who perished in the holocaust. And here’s to the hope that it will never happen again.