A CHANUKAH STORY

OUR HISTORY, TOO. As a child, two things about my mother’s Auschwitz history terrified me. They were the electrified barbed wire fence and the cold. Even at age four, I understood. Touching the fence resulted in a painful, lingering, horrific death.I wanted to ask her “What if you accidentally fell onto the fence?” Children have accidents, stumble, scrape their knees. I was one of those children. Then, there was the unspoken realization that there might have been some who chose to fling themselves on the fence. Decades later, I read that about the time my mother arrived in Auschwitz on May 31 or June 1, 1944. the fence which had been de-electrified for a period to save power, had been recently re-electrified. How the guards must have mocked the prisoners with yet another threat. The second thing was the cold. In December, 2014, I had a layover in the Munich airport. The snows were deep, the skies gray. I stood at the floor to ceiling windows of the strangely minimalist concrete terminal and stared. The thing that brought me out of my reverie was the sound of a nearby group of Orthodox men reciting the evening prayer. I smiled at God’s wonders.

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