Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On January 27, 1945, the largest Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated January 27th as the day we remember the six million lives that were cruelly ended because of intolerance and hate gone wild.
On January 27, 1930, my Mama was born on a kitchen table in The Bronx to her parents who fled Jewish persecution in Russia, years before the rise of the Third Reich. She did not practice Judaism but always identified herself as a Jew and proudly shared the culture with me as she raised me. She told me of the horrors of persecution through the ages but she always focused on the fact that we come from a long line of survivors who for thousands of years not only beat all odds by merely existing, but who found joy in life.
In 2005, my Mama left this world. In her coffin I placed in her hand her favorite earthly delights: a pack of Pall Mall red, no filters (which was the culprit behind Mama leaving me so soon), chocolate covered cherries with all liquid centers, Joyva marble halvah and song sheets for all the good old songs she’d sing with her brother. I kept the memories here…in my heart. Since 2005, I remember my Yiddisha Mama.
I find the coincidence of International Holocaust Remembrance Day occurring on her birthday and it being declared the year she died, strange…but very fitting.
Today, remember to be kind to one another. Honor this day.