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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016

Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  (The only reason I did not put the Hebrew year is that I can never remember which Hebrew year it is!)  Last year, I decided I wanted to do more to observe the day.  I decided I wanted to fast, then learned that, paradoxically, Holocaust Remembrance Day falls in the one Hebrew month when one is actually forbidden to fast! So I set aside one of my black velvet kippot for this day.  I wanted to wear it more than one day a year, so I also wear it on Yom HaZikaron (Israel's Memorial Day for fallen soldiers), and on fast days; however, today is very special to me because it is the original reason I set aside this kippah, and this is the very first time I am wearing it for that reason.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (assuming you have read my previous Yom HaShoah posts), I wish to reiterate my connection to the Holocaust.  I have the same connection as every other Ashkenazi Jew in America today (Ashkenazi Jews descend from Eastern Europe), but mine goes beyond that.  In the records room at the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC, I looked up two last names: my actual last name (censored from this post for internet safety reasons) and Dafner (relatives a couple generations back on my father's side).  In the Warsaw Ghetto alone were approximately three hundred people with my last name.  I would never say they were all related to me: among other reasons, there were several spellings.  Since those branches of my family who survived had the spelling of their name changed when they came through Ellis Island, I did not even know which name to be looking at first!

So honestly, with all that said, it should be no surprise that the Dafners hit me harder.  Dafner is an uncommon enough name that Every. Single. Dafner. who was killed was related to me.  They all came from a single town: Wolbrum (pronounced with a V sound, not a W), Poland.  It's not a long list--fifteen or so names--but again, that's fifteen relatives of mine who perished.

When I was in middle school, my local university always did a 24-hour vigil on Yom HaShoah, reading names aloud from the Auschwitz death lists.  My school used to take the middle school students in the afternoon, to take turns reading.  One year, I happened to be standing up, waiting for my turn to read, at a good angle to see over the shoulder of the person reading before me.  I  heard them hit the "D" section of the list, and I knew they were coming to Dafner.  (It was not a foregone conclusion that my relatives would have died in Auschwitz, but it was very possible, given how large Auschwitz was and the fact that it was in Poland.)  I peered over the shoulder of the reader.  I only managed to see one name, but so that she may never be forgotten, here it is: RUTH DAFNER.

Remembering the victims is so important that I think you all should see her name a few more times.
RUTH DAFNER.
RUTH DAFNER.
RUTH DAFNER.

I wish to end this post with hope.  May we never forget the Holocaust, but may we also work to make this world a better place today.  That is what I am going to do now.  Here is a Reece's Rainbow child, "CULLEN."  (Forgive me if I've posted him before; I'm starting to lose track.)  "Cullen" is diagnosed with DOWN SYNDROME; he is aging out NEXT YEAR (maximum EIGHTEEN MONTHS.)

Cullen Apr 2014 (1)

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I am a bipolar, Jewish young adult (had my Hebrew birthday, the one I count, and turned 23 this past January) who also suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I love life and I live for my best friends: they are my purpose and my reason for trying so hard. I remain passionately devoted to those I love; I will not let my disorders make me totally self-centered. I like to read, write, and sew. My Rabbinical school plans did not work out, and I am now hoping to go into the field of Early Childhood Education. Please note: I am currently maintaining only Carried in His Hands. Enjoy!