The legacy of survivors

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As we commemorate Yom Hashoah, we again realize the distance that separates us from the event. We are in the midst of a transition between lived history and historical memory.

Survivors who were but teenagers at the end of the war are now well into their 90s with the last survivors being children whose experiences were all too real, yet whose recollections are often pre-verbal, images and feelings, which at a distance they were able to transmit in words.

Perhaps it is time on this Yom Hashoah to reflect on the legacy of survivors, even now when they are still with us, so we can understand what they have contributed to the Jewish future—the human future.

During World War II and in the immediate aftermath, survivors did what was most essential—they survived, enduring conditions that thankfully we non-survivors will never know. After liberation, they also fought to survive, grappling with the loss of family and community, struggling to build a future while also coming to terms with the past.

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