My Family's Lack of Holocaust Story is the Big Story

Batya Medad ,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Batya Medad
New York-born Batya Medad made aliyah with her husband just weeks after their 1970 wedding and has been living in Shiloh since 1981. Political pundit, with a unique perspective, Batya has worked in a variety of professions: teaching, fitness, sales, cooking, public relations, photography and more. She has a B.S. in Journalism, is a licensed English Teacher specializing as a remedial teacher and for a number of years has been studying Tanach (Bible) in Matan. Batya blogs on Shiloh Musings and A Jewish Grandmother. ...

My Family's Lack of Holocaust Story is the Biggest Story

For most of my life, ever since I first heard of the Holocaust in Hebrew School and on television, when the The Diary of Anne Frank came out my reaction has been.

It's not my family's story. My parents were born in America, and my grandparents all immigrated to there in the early twentieth century, decades before the Nazis.

And yes, I've written it here too on my blogs.

The late 1950's and early 1960's were when the general public learned about the Holocaust, because besides the Anne Frank story, which was packaged perfectly, the very young State of Israel managed to capture Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann and bring him to public trial. 

Even though all of my grandparents were from European locations, RogotshovNasielsk and Kiev, that had seen its Jewish population decimated by the Nazis I had never ever heard a single story that connected my family to that major and unprecedented tragedy. In addition, I grew up in Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY, which was housing for American war veterans, and none of the parents although over 90% Jewish, had European accents or were Holocaust survivors. In the local Conservative synagogue, Oakland Jewish Center, where I went to Hebrew School, I don't remember anyone coming in giving a first-person story of the Holocaust or saying that their family had escaped or experienced it.

Actually, the easy fact that my mother had neither cousins nor aunts and uncles in America wasn't attributed to the Holocaust until the poem Babi Yar was published and publicized in America. That's when my mother said that her mother's family was probably among the Jews massacred in Babi Yar.
 

The Vishnefskys of Rogotshov, parents of my mother's mother. And above that is a small photo of my mother's family, Passover, most probably 1948 or 1949.

This morning when I was trying to decide what to write, I first rejected Holocaust Memorial Day, because I don't have a "story." My father's father's family all left Nesielsk, Poland over a decade before it was conquered by the Nazis, so they were safely in New York long before the Nazis came to power. And we have heard nothing about what actually happened to my paternal grandmother's two sisters who remained in the USSR, except that they were loyal communists.

The truth is that we don't know if there are any heroic stories from my family, because nobody survived to tell us. And just now I've realized that I do have a story. My story is that my family members who stayed in Europe were all swallowed up in the black hole of the Nazi Holocaust not even leaving enough clues to discover a story. We can't even add their names.