Not long ago it wasn’t uncommon to see numbers on forearms during the summer months. It is now. Many survivors have left the world, often taking their untold stories away with them. It would be easy to presume that the saga called the Shoah is nearly over, but that is a premature conclusion; As long as the Holocaust echoes strongly in the lives of the second and third generations, we as a people must still grapple with its secrets and traumas.
When my friend Hadassah was a little girl, she already knew the names of her future children. Hadassah isn’t a prophetess, she’s the daughter of an Auschwitz survivor. She knew what she had to do. Her son would be named for the grandfather she had never met. Her daughter would be named for the grandmother she had never met. When Hadassah played house Yirmiyahu and Eidel were her make-believe children. When she married and was indeed blessed with a son and a daughter, reality caught up with her childhood dreams.
“Both my parents were the sole survivors in their families. I felt pressure to be so good, to be the best consolation — because I was their only hope, because they had lost everything,” Hadassah reflects. “In terms of the names, it wasn’t as much a request from my parents as it was self-understood.”
Imagine how her parents would have felt if their lifelong hope of naming grandchildren after their loved ones wasn’t self-understood. Now we can begin to understand Chana Eichler.
Six Million and One by Rivka Galai, is based on the true story of a hidden child from Holland who establishes her own family but is only blessed with sons. A blessing, true, but also an enormous test that gets handed down to the next generation: Who will name a child for Chana’s twin sister Shprintze? Surely Chana’s daughter-in-law will accommodate such an understandable request. Or will she?
And what really happened at the convent where Chana weathered the war? The dark sins and secrets will soon be known to all…
-Guest Blogger: Sara Miriam Gross
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