This past Sunday, our Sinai Temple religious school hosted a brunch honoring Holocaust Survivors in the Los Angeles community. This brunch, organized by Religious School Director, Danielle Kassin, and her team of wonderful volunteers, is a true highlight. For years, the ballroom was filled with the sounds of storytelling: survivors sharing their journeys with our seventh-grade students and other community members. This year, stories were shared, but as I looked at the room, the difference was obvious. Survivors no longer filled the capacity of the room. Less people sat at the tables. Our children are reaching a time in which survivors will no longer walk this earth.
We will be the guardians of their stories.
In a bit of desperation, I encouraged my own children to take a picture with one of our Sinai Temple members, a survivor of the Holocaust. My kids were perplexed over my sense of urgency. Afterwards I explained to them, “This may not feel big to you now. But I want you to remember this moment. You will be the last generation to know these incredible people and hear their stories. And one day, you will share with your own children—I had the opportunity to meet a survivor of the Holocaust.” My older daughter seemed to understand the gravity of the situation. But even after two trips on March of the Living, I have never felt a greater weight of responsibility. This will be our story to tell. And to those that deny this story, this will be our battle and fight. My job is to ensure that my children, their generation, and the ones that follow are up for the challenge.
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was known for saying, “God made humans because God loves stories.” Storytelling is how we establish our own identity and carry on the legacy of our people. And our charge is to pass on the stories of our people from generation to generation, promising the survivors of the Holocaust that we have listened.
Their words and their stories are forever seared on our hearts. Their story is our story.
Rabbi Nicole Guzik is a rabbi at Sinai Temple. She can be reached at her Facebook page at Rabbi Nicole Guzik or on Instagram @rabbiguzik. For more writings, visit Rabbi Guzik’s blog section from Sinai Temple’s website.