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Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel

Slowly, as the candle burns in my dining room, I think of those who perished, those who were murdered in a Holocaust that remains as agonizing and bitter today as it was when it happened. That’s the truth – time does not dull the memory – not of those who truly remember.


One by one, I think of those we can identify, those names we know.

May God bless the memory of Gavriella…for some reason, her murder haunts me the most. I wanted to name my first daughter after her, but my mother-in-law was afraid to have a baby named after her little sister, who was murdered by the Nazis at age 12. She was afraid that Gavriella’s fate, of dying young, could in some way impact on my baby and I honored her request and named my beautiful baby after my grandmother instead.

I wanted to name my second daughter after Gavriella, but my mother-in-law had passed away, and so Aliza was named after her. More, even though I didn’t really agree with holding the name back, I felt I could not do it after my mother-in-law had asked me not to.

And so the name and the memory haunted me and then, when my daughter-in-law and son were expecting, they asked us for names boys…and girls…and when it came to a girl’s name, Gavriella was the first name that came to mind. I gave them others. She is their daughter; the decision was theirs.

My granddaughter is named Michal Gavriella and when she was born and I heard the name that she was given, I felt that we had stolen the name back from the Nazis, that we had redeemed it.

Michali is growing in this land of ours, beautiful and happy and so amazing…she is the best response to what was done to Gavriella.

I pray that somewhere in the heavens, Gavriella knows that she has not been forgotten. That though she was denied this land, her namesake dances and sings and plays in this land, here where the Nazis cannot touch her – not the Nazis that killed Gavriella, and not the Nazis that even today, still try to hurt and kill Jews.

May God bless the memory of Gavriella and may our people never again be without the means to protect ourselves and may God, above all else, stand over us and protect us.


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Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running since 2007. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write.