Photo: Yisrael Bardugo
To my secular friend:
My friend, who views today as just another regular day. I wanted to tell you a horrifying story.
The story of a baby born to a reality of harsh war. An infant whose father went out to the street in an attempt to protect himself and his family against the horror of the cursed thugs, but quickly collapsed, bleeding, under their sword, leaving behind a widow who was also murdered and an orphaned baby. Crying, hungry, and vulnerable.
This is the story of a merciful Jewish mother, who raised her children with plenty of love. A mother who invested in and nurtured her children, yet at some point could no longer help them. The terrible hunger, the kind of hunger we will never be able to describe, a hunger that makes one mad, the hunger of insanity, led this mother to cook her own children. Horrific.
This is the story of hundreds of thousands of children, elderly, and young Jews – yes, your fellow Jews – who were exterminated and murdered within a few days, as rivers of Jewish blood were flowing through the streets; warm Jewish blood.
This is a story about a Jewish “ghetto” that was set on fire. A ghetto without barbed wire, but one surrounded by a great and solid wall that collapsed in the face of the enemy’s formidable tools of war, and melted in the immense flames that eliminated anything in their way. A ghetto that was burned down and tens of thousands of people who died.
This is the story of a terrible and horrifying holocaust. A holocaust that saw hundreds of thousands of Jews tortured and murdered. It’s a story of genocide, the tale of millions of refugees forced to wander across the world, with nothing to their name, deprived of humanity, identity, or minimal dignity and forced to beg for a little food or a shelter for the night.
I wanted to tell you about a holocaust that you don’t mark, but at least you would do well to remember it. A holocaust that was not documented, with the exception of a short scroll, etched in blood. It’s a holocaust without museums, breathtaking movies, extermination camps, or marches. It’s a terrible holocaust, the first one that befell your people and expelled them from their land. The holocaust of Jerusalem.
This holocaust was not only terrible in terms of numbers, but also in its consequences; in its wake, the people went into exile, and thousands of years of suffering, difficulties, and ceaseless death got underway.
I wanted to tell you that today is the Ninth of Av, the day both the First Temple and Second Temple were destroyed; a day where the entire Jewish people come together to mourn, fast, and shed tears.
I also wanted to make a small request. Even if you don’t fast today, I’m convinced that you honor the memory of the hundreds of thousands exterminated in the Jerusalem holocaust. At least stop for a brief moment, a moment of thought and solidarity with the memory of the deceased, and with the memory of many millions killed since then in exile, just because they were Jewish.
Remember them, and remember that you’re Jewish too.