Monday, March 30, 2009
From Poland to Israel to Hip Hop Poetry
My son (second on the left, bushy red beard) just returned from a trip to Poland, a trip taken by thousands of Israeli students each year. Some unknown number of Diaspora Jewish kids also do the trip, though they combine it with a followup trip to Israel.
The trip is designed to make real the stories they already know about their heritage: the lost Jewish communities of Europe, and the sickening devastation caused by the Holocaust which occurred while so many others blamed the Jews or turned away. The trip to Poland is unforgettable, as is the return to a vibrant life that the Jews have miraculously built for themselves in Israel.
We're solidly into the second generation away from the Holocaust. My father and grandfather left Germany in 1939; my father was two years old. This is my son's grandfather and great-grandfather. The Poles who now live in Poland are similarly two or three generations away from the perpetrators of these events.
They may be removed from these events, but not from the possibility of their recurrence. The children making this trip were a knife's edge away from never having been born to make it. Many of them will be going into the Israeli army, facing enemies who are just as determined to end their own lives.
Various nations of the world, who still treat their own enemies with rape, torture, and wholesale slaughter, indiscriminately "softening" battlefields with shock and awe, razing remnants of enemy cultures to the ground with music and blood-lust, keep the media headlines busy with rumors of a few moral lapses done by one or two individual Israelis, ignoring the many thousands of acts by thousands of similar Israelis of charity and care to enemy civilians at the very real risk to their own lives, ignoring the deliberate efforts still being made to finish what was left unfinished. Doesn't surprise me much; keeps them from having to face the truth about themselves.
I haven't heard my son's story about his trip, yet, as he has gone up north to walk the land with friends of his who couldn't make the Poland trip. I don't think he's slept in a week.
But today's Jews are no longer found in the ghettos of Europe or the barbed wire of concentration and death camps. They're building businesses, making movies, making science, writing, singing, dancing, helping the poor and sick in every country around the world.
Vanessa Hidary says it:
Or catch a Taglit-Birthright Monologues show.