I admit it. I was drawn to attend today's Holocaust Remembrance Day in Pan Pacific Park, Los Angeles, because the Honorable Dan Gillerman was the keynote speaker. Frankly, I could listen to that man recite a recipe.
However, if I had known that it would take sitting through hours of speakers and singers (during the omer no less) before we could actually hear him, I would not have attended. G-d forbid we should forget the six million, but frankly, among Jews, there's no threat of that happening anytime soon.
I also feel that the sponsors of today's event (Los Angele Museum of the Holocaust) compete with the Museum of Tolerance for money and prestige, and therefore did not invite another of my favorite speakers, Rabbi Marvin Hier. So, in truth, I was bored, as was my guest, an old friend, and we both had a hard time remaining seated. Which only added to the guilt of my negative feelings when every time I got up, the row had to get up.
I am not the child of Holocaust survivors, but my husband is. He never attends these events. It's usually me, in large part because of my past fascination with the Holocaust. I've read countless books and watched endless videos much to my husband's distaste. He grew up with it as a fact of life.
My parents, on the other hand, admonished us never to forget, but I had no known relatives killed - my immediate family were already living in the States. My father fought in North Africa during WWII, and didn't have any horror stories to tell. Just your typical American Jewish family, barely Reform in observance, with plenty of the "other white meat" in the freezer.
In the end, Gillerman was worth the wait. He echoed the sentiments of all the previous speakers, including our Mayor (I didn't vote for him last time but I will this time - he's a hoot!). Iran's a problem, Israel the greatest salvation. And then he said a few lines that touched me. "If you want to know history, touch a stone. If you want to know the present, touch a flower. If you want to know the future, touch a child."
The greatest revenge against our murderers is not just living, Your Honor, but living as Jews. The next time you speak to a crowd of Jews as Jews, wear a kippah*. Remember that while Israel is important, terribly important, the One Above is the Boss. Not the IDF. The One Above protects us, THROUGH the IDF. Amen.
*Head covering worn by Jewish men to remind them that G-d is above them - aka yarmulka. Women are perfect - we don't need that kind of reminder about the Holy One.