Remembering
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Remembering

Remembering

Perhaps we fear that by remembering our losses, we'll be unable to move forward.

by

Another terror attack. For one day or two, the victims will be remembered nationally. And then they will fall from our memory.

Israelis are not encouraged to remember. We have our days of remembrance, but we as a society are commanded to march on, clean up, and above all, go on. I suppose we have to. But, as a result, too many of our victims are forgotten.

We can learn a lesson here from the Palestinians, who are much more relentless about remembering their dead. Though we may argue with who killed Mohamed al-Dura, or the cynical use to which his death has been put, he is not forgotten. The Arabs continue to immortalize him, with his face on postage stamps, his name on a street in Baghdad, and a park in Morocco named after him.

The murder of the Ramallah lynch victims, killed in cold blood by a mob of Palestinian killers, was also televised, yet few Israelis remember their names.

I don't mean to say that we should sensationalize the deaths of the victims, or manipulate them for world opinion, like the Palestinians do so well. I am talking about the pure act of remembering.

The teacher thought my son should be in school, not home tending his psychic wounds.

Children are taught not to remember. My 13-year-old son's teacher called the day before his brother Koby's yahrtzeit to ask why he wasn't in school that day. Never mind that I'd had a personal conference with the teacher to explain to him that this was a difficult time of year for all of us (Koby and his friend Yosef were brutally murdered by Palestinians) and he should be aware of the special circumstances. Never mind that the teacher knew we were all visiting the cemetery that day. The teacher thought my son should be in school, not home tending his psychic wounds.

Communities are not encouraged to remember. When we asked the Society for the Preservation of Nature to dedicate in memory of the boys the project they are currently working on in our community, we were told that they will not, as a matter of policy, make remembrances to victims.

Another example: The city of Jerusalem rushed to commemorate the victims of 9/11, while the families of the victims of Jerusalem's bombs attacks have struggled to get the city to even put up a plaque in their children's memories.

Every corner could host a memorial.

Perhaps we fear that if we remember all our losses, we will be unable to move forward, to act productively -- to live. Every corner could host a memorial. So not remembering becomes a survival strategy. Perhaps the collective memory of the Holocaust is so overpowering that we as a nation have decided not to visit our losses and pain.

But when we don't remember the victims, we consign their deaths to oblivion and meaninglessness. It slices my heart when people say to me that Koby's death is senseless. It is senseless only if we don't remember it; only if don't use it to make meaning. Then mourning becomes a kind of hell.

Judaism is a religion that is forged on a national memory of the Exodus when we were released from slavery and given the opportunity to forge a national identify based on recognizing God. We continually remember the Holy Temple and our bonds to Jerusalem. Keeping that memory alive is what has tied us to Israel throughout the millennia.

Our task of forging a nation continues. But for memory to animate us, we need to recognize that our losses in these past years are part of our national struggle. We must weave that meaning and the memory of the dead together in our lives. We should ask ourselves and others -- in Israel and in the Jewish diaspora -- to issue postage stamps, and name streets, and parks and schools and good works in their names.

Remembering the victims not only gives them the respect they deserve, and their families some solace, but it can give all of us courage as well. Remembering means that we participate in the stories of loss not as voyeurs, but as participants of a national history. By granting the victims' lives visibility and meaning, we redeem their stories -- and our own.

Published: June 14, 2003


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Visitor Comments: 9

(9) Laura, February 11, 2004 12:00 AM

never forget

I will never forget your dear Koby, or you or your family..I'm not Jewish, I am human and American, and I won't forget. Your story has changed me in a great way.

(8) Sarah Sapper, July 3, 2003 12:00 AM

As Zanvy said at the memorial at HDS, Koby and Yosef's deaths are only senseless if we make them that way. Our job is to make them meaningful by always remembering and by having the courage not to be paralyzed. Their memory must give us the courage to do and accomplish.

(7) raye, June 25, 2003 12:00 AM

We must not forget to remember

If the Palestinians can commemorate their "murderers" (i.e. suicide bombers), why should we not have some sort of symbol of remembrance for our innocent victims.

(6) Tobias Irwin, June 17, 2003 12:00 AM

Memory is essential to our survival

Dear Sherri
Your courage is a bracha to Klal Yisroel, may the Kobi Mandell Foundation go from strength to strength. It takes effort to remember, thats why so few people do. I will undertake a daily effort to remember our lost and our bereaved. We can gain strength and clarity by remembering our lost brothers and sisters. We must also remember the ambivelance and in some cases the hate that the world has for Jews...the brutality of those who seek to destroy us. Palestinians remember in order to add fuel to the fires of their brutality, to justify their evil. We remember in order to heal, in order to unify as a nation, in order strengthen our love of our fellow Jews. May you have many brachas in your important work.

(5) Dorit Ernst, June 16, 2003 12:00 AM

Thanks!

You are right!! And, as Boris Jovanovich says, I also believe that GOD does remember - and the history of the Jewish people as well as the remembrance lies in HIS hands. HE will help you through, in your future as well.

GOD bless you.

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