Yom HaShoah


Yom HaShoah starts on Sunday night and ends on Monday at sundown.

I haven’t taught the kids about the Holocaust yet. ¬†Other than in the most general of terms – they know about WWII, and they know that Hitler and the Nazis were terrible, terrible people, and they did awful things to the Jews. ¬†They even know that a lot of Jewish people died during the war, and that’s part of why Jews are such a minority.

But the details… yeah, I can barely bring myself to think about them, how do I talk about them with my kids? ¬†And by kids, I’m talking mostly about my ten year old, Jessica. ¬†My six year old and three year old are still little enough so it’s not an issue.

I wonder how old I was when I read the Diary of Anne Frank. ¬†Junior high? ¬†I feel like I remember some sort of presentation down in the cafeteria. ¬†I’m guessing it was seventh or eighth grade.

Jessie and I were talking earlier on the way to her slumber party, and I told her that she was going to be going to the religious school class on it on Monday. ¬†She knows about the Holocaust, but really has no idea. ¬†She asked if it was as bad as 9/11. ¬†Worse, I said. ¬†It was much worse. ¬†Then she asked what they did all day in the concentration camps, and I really stumbled over my answer. ¬†I don’t even know exactly what I said… something about it being like a prison, and that it was horrible beyond words. ¬†I started to think about the pictures I’ve seen, and actually started to say that people starved, and then I stopped. ¬†Remembered that she’s only ten.

I don’t know that I’m old enough to really understand the Holocaust. ¬†Are you ever really? ¬†And if you aren’t – then when do I tell her? ¬†How do you tell your child what happened? ¬†This was her family. ¬†If we had been alive then, and living in Germany, it would have been us. ¬†That’s terrifying – and for a sensitive kid, for any kid, hell, for any adult, that’s … I don’t have words.

We’ll light the candle together on Sunday night, and we’ll talk a little about it. ¬†General terms, avoiding any graphic descriptions, and reassure her, and her brother and sister, that we live today in America, and that we’re safe. ¬† And we’ll tell her, and her brother and sister when they’re old enough, that they have a special obligation to remember, to make the world better, in whatever way they can. ¬† To make the world a place where the Holocaust never happens again.