Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Paying a shiva call in Auschwitz-Birkenau

If there ever is an unlikely place in the entire world to be menachem avel, it's here, right in front of the last remaining cattle car on the tracks of Birkenau.  
The place where Leslie Kleinman lost his parents, his sister and his brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles.  Out of 60 family members, Leslie lost 57...

I don't think that any of us realize what a zchut and a gift it is to be able to bury our loved ones, to mourn them in the way that they are meant to be mourned, to have the closure we need in order to move on and to have a physical place to come to on the anniversary of their death or when we simply need to remember. We are so often filled with endless grief that we often take that for granted. 

On a personal note, I know that my husband takes great comfort in knowing that his parents are buried in Israel and that they are buried side by side as they would have wanted.  And when we pull up at the side of the road at the Eretz HaChaim cemetery with our children on the anniversary of their death, my children hop out of the car and know exactly where to go, where they are and where they will always be.  
This summer, we are visiting Toronto B"H to celebrate two smachot and my children, not having been back to Toronto in more than five years are super excited. I asked them what they want to do there, what day trips they want to plan, what parks they want to visit. My son, Ezra, 17, said that one of the places he wants to visit first are the kvarot of my grandparents, both holocaust survivors.  

He's planning on preparing a passage of tehillim to say while we're there.  I can't tell you how much that moved me, that his list of places to see didn't begin with Canada's Wonderland, or Costco for shopping, but to a gravesite of his ancestors.

This is what Leslie and so many more survivors did not have the zchut to have. So we set up a chair right in front that last train car - the last place he remembers seeing his family - and each and every one of us paid a shiva call.  We all said those words that every single one of us has said hundreds of times to grieving people all over the world. 
And we gave him the closure he needed.

....המקום ינחם אתכם 

I think this says it all...

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