Photo Credit: Jewish Press

I write these words as the sun is setting on Yom HaShoah. The day fades away along with all the memories. Who remains? How many can retell their story, the moments when our ashes blackened the sun and left the world clouded in grey?

When speaking to today’s youth I have come to a place of understanding. There is a loss of remembrance. Many have no recollection of ever speaking with one who lived through that gehenom. No bubby. No zaidy. No memory.


Our time now in sefira is not simply about counting the days. It is about making our days count. And as we create and grow our potential we must hold onto the strength of those who walked before us.

In the last years of my mother’s life, my mother was on a speaking tour in Israel. My daughter who was living in Jerusalem at the time came up with a life changing idea.

“Bubba, why don’t we make a film and you will narrate the stories of your life? All that you went through, with footage and photos, so that everyone can hear your voice and see your stories come alive?”

B’Chasdei Hashem, my daughter had the foresight of creating a lasting legacy that remains long past the moment my mother returned her neshama Above. This past week, at an exclusive event, I showed the film, ‘Triumph of the Spirit’ to a group of young professionals in NYC. The room was packed. No one knew what to expect. They had never met my mother, nor heard her voice.

The room was dark. A life-sized screen was behind me. I knew that I had to speak to this audience, the future leaders and parents of our people. I’d like to share some of what I said with you, dear reader.

“If my mother was here tonight, what would she say? First, she would say thank you. Thank you for your hard work and efforts in making this event a success. Thank you for showing up and caring in a world where so many are indifferent and apathetic.

You are about to embark upon one of the most important missions of your life. You will bear witness to a time, not so long ago, when antisemitism ran wild, the earth was soaked with our blood and the world remained deafeningly silent. You will inhale the stench of Jew hatred, grief, loss, and suffering… yet you will exhale hope, faith, strength and Jewish pride. This is called triumph of the spirit.

How did this happen to us? How did the world lose its’ soul?

Tonight you will hear my mother’s voice.

In the years before my mother left this world she said over and over –‘kinderlach, children… I know what I am seeing. I know what I am saying. The world is on fire and we are sleeping.

Tonight, I say hineni! Look Ema. Look at the beautiful faces in this room. We are not sleeping.”

It was as if my mother returned, for just this evening, and gave her heart and soul to an entire new generation. There she was, towering in the room, touching souls and igniting the pintela Yid once again. As my mother’s voice filled the space, I watched eyes glisten.

At the end of the evening, many came over to me. Some could not find the words. They had been witness not only to the suffering but to the spiritual resilience and courage that my mother stood for as well. These young men and women discovered the meaning of faith under fire and the miracle of the Jew.

One young man told me that he had known about the Holocaust but had never really understood the magnitude, the battle of the soul.

“I have never felt so much pain in my heart as I am feeling right now,” he said.

As we approach Shavuos, and zman matan Toraseinu, let us be sure to plug into the emunah of those who came before us. Let us discover our spiritual DNA. We are a nation of miracles. Torah is more than a subject, or a grade on a report card. It is our oxygen, our mission statement, our spiritual compass that guides our every moment.

Ki hem chayeinu veorech yomainu…” When the whole world turns their back on us and it feels as if we are sitting in darkness, let us plug in to the power of our Torah. We will discover the secret of resilience, the power of the Jew.

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Slovie Jungreis Wolff is a noted teacher, author, relationships and lecturer. She is the leader of Hineni Couples and the author of “Raising A Child With Soul.” She gives weekly classes and has lectured throughout the U.S., Canada, and South Africa. She can be reached at [email protected].