Friday, August 5, 2011

What is your vision?

This week we commemorate Tisha B’av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. It was on this day that both our holy Temples were destroyed in Jerusalem.
But we now also use it to commemorate the two World Wars, the Holocaust, and the expulsion of British Jews in 1290, which also took place on Tisha B'av.
Appropriately, I'm penning a little known story from a dear friend and Holocaust survivor, Rosa.
In the Ghetto there was a famous man. No one knew where he came from but they called him Yidel . Yidel dressed like a beggar. Everyone looked malnourished but Yidel, in his tatty clothes, looked like a tramp, walking wi

th his head down.
Yidel was famous because he supplied cigarettes to German soldiers. In those days it was hard to get your hands on anything, even SS officers appreciated a cigarette. He would walk up and down the streets of the ghetto and everyone knew him. He would barter for bread, as money had little - or no - value.
When the Germans came to take our family, my sister told her seven year-old son, Shalom, to run and hide with me. My sister was pregnant, she couldn't run.
Shalom replied: "Mum, I don’t want to end up looking like Yidel, I want to stay with you." He put up a fight and unfortunately he won. Together with his parents and younger sister he was sent to Auschwitz.
Ninety two year-old Rosa, alive and well and so animated tells the story wiping tears away. She shows me a photo of her nephew, a bright and handsome little boy. "Everything was to be taken from the child," she says. "Why would he want to be another Yidel?"
Young Shalom didn’t have the chance to have a bar mitzvah. He could have been a father, a grandfather; a teacher or an artist. All that remains of Shalom is a small black and white photo, of a smiling young child, wanting to stay with his parents.
This Shabbat is called Shabbat Chazon: Shabbat of vision. Says Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, each and every one of us is granted a vision of the third and final Temple.
Sweet Shalom had a vision and expectation of himself. We all have dreams and visions of where we want to be.
May the vision of the holy Temple become a reality and with it the dreams of so many speedily in our days.

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