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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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The Ashes of a People

KL Majdanek. Mglisty paŸdziernikowy poranek 2008

I found one and took a picture. I thought of that shoe again and again while I was in Poland. Each shell of a synagogue we visited, each desecrated, over-grown cemetery, each building that to this day bears the trace of a mezuzah, the Hebrew lettering, the symbols of a religion and people hunted to the edge of extinction.

Though the Jewish people as a whole rose up from this abyss, Polish Jewry did not survive. Of the 3,325,000 Jews in Poland before the wore, only 325,000 survived. My great grandmother, Raizel didn’t survive. Her daughters, Mary and Anna (Freida and Mina) didn’t survive.

In the end, the story of that one shoe is the story of Polish Jewry. Destroyed, bereft, and unable to tell its full story.

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3 Responses to “The Ashes of a People”

  1. Cody Flecker says:

    The Germans were indeed guilty in the murdering of so many Jewish and non Jewish People, but we all must understand that it was really Christianity that was guilty in allowing so many criminals the ability to kill these millions of Jews. The Christian Church, both Catholic and Protestant, Orthodox,and Secular did very little to help the Jews. In fact they aided and abetted the Germans in their quest to make the world Judenfrei. The real blame lies within the antisemitism in the Church then as now. The Germans pulled the trigger, Christianity told them that is was OK for them to act. Everyone in the meantime turned a blind eye to the unfolding tragedy.

  2. Read this passage again.

    "Our guide showed us a room filled with shoes. He told us there were 800,000 shoes there. A small portion of shoes, perhaps a few hundred, are displayed in Yad Vashem. A few hundred or a few hundred thousand – the numbers are incomprehensible and so our guide once again helped us. He urged us to find a shoe, a single shoe, and let it tell us its story. "

    Hitler looked at this group of people, and for whatever reasons, he decided that all of them were guilty of the same things. He put them all into the same set of shoes, devaluing each and every one of them. He's not the only one.

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