My mom calls me.
“Do you have a candle,” she asks.
“No..” I think of all the Glade scented candles I have. She can’t mean those. Her voice sounds serious.
“Why not? Don’t you know what day it is?”
I start to panic. I didn’t know. I felt like I failed some sort of Jew test.
“No. What day is it?”
“It’s Holocaust Memorial Day. Go light a candle.” Oh, I had candles. But,I wasn’t going to light a Glade Scented (R) Cinnamon Apple candle for 6 million Jews.
I can’t believe I forgot about the holiday whose primary message is “Remember.” I knew it was coming up, but not exactly when. That’s the disadvantage of not being involved in a Jewish community. You have no clue when the holidays are anymore. One year you’re celebrating Yom Hashoa in Beit Shemesh with Israelis on a cloudless day, the next you’re reading names of victims in the rain on campus. The next, you’re doing nothing because you are a Big Career Woman in DC and completely forget. But even if you forget, the fact what happened remains, and nothing that people say or do, including Ahmedinejad, can really wipe that fact away.
Hannah Szenesh’s song is probably the most symbolic to me of the Holocaust because I first learned it when I was in Poland and my Israeli chaperone sang it in Auschwitz. And then, a couple years later, I read parts of Hannah’s diary in Hebrew. And couldn’t imagine how she wrote such beautiful poetry, but then died in blackness.
So here it is. Song of a lonely paratrooper, for Yom HaShoa, by a fellow Russian Jew.