Notice the full moon in the night sky? Just as our ancestors did, we look up and realize we are two weeks away from a new month…and the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, a New Year. At this halfway mark during the month of Elul, have we begun to do the work we need? As the writer below shares her story, we ask, “What have we denied? Where have we been inconsistent? What is our moral compass?
“My parents, both born in Germany, treated the Shoah as almost an irrelevance. They visited Germany, and had many German friends. They encouraged my sister to study there, and when challenged by other Jews, would simply say ‘You can’t blame the current generation for what their parents did.’ But it wasn’t entirely consistent. I remember hearing my mother criticizing someone for going on holiday in Germany some years before they themselves went. She never spoke German when in that country, though would express herself fluently in the language when in England if required.
And I inherited my parents’ attitude of denial. Brought up bilingual, I was delighted to find another German speaking girl on my I first day at school. We became firm friends until the day her mother came rushing over to my mother, speaking volubly and fast in German. My mother stiffened, and replied in monosyllables. I had no idea what was being said, but clearly something was not right. Afterwards I asked what had happened. ‘Oh they are not like us,’ my mother said, ‘She came over after the war.’ I had no idea what that meant, but I knew it was not good. I never spoke to the girl again.”
by Rabbi Sybil Sheridan