When I read The Diary of Anne Frank as a little girl I was quite captivated by the tale, and it spawned an era in my youth where I devoured other such stories of these ultimate games of hide and seek. Born exactly 53 years and one day before myself, this dorky little Jewish girl had been the face and name through which I had imagined myself in that era, she had been the catalyst for way too much reading on the holocaust than is healthy for a child and countless sleepless nights of my pre-adolescence where I imagined what if.
Three generations removed from the Holocaust, it gave me a connection, at a safe distance, to a Jewishness not based on much other than an ill defined condition of specialness (why were we special? I didn’t know, but it definitely had something to do with the holocaust). I have since become somewhat resentful of my death-centric Jewish identity and let it go, along with other faded remnants of my childhood. Enforced by my move to Israel, where I was able to form an identity based on strength rather than weakness, rare are the moments I allow myself to connect to the incomprehensible realities of what happened to our people 60 odd years ago.
Even so, On my journey back to Israel two days ago, I had a 12 hour lay over in a cold and rainyAmsterdam, and felt compelled to visit the Anne Frank House.
I went through the house twice. Not quite knowing how to feel, I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t feel more. Did I not dwell long enough in each room? Did I not contemplate the overall significance enough?
But then what is our duty as living Jews? Yes, we must remember, but must we still mourn? I think in my own life I had to make a break from the emotional quicksand of the holocaust in order to move forward as a member of a living and thriving Jewish people. As such, I could not help but appreciate the beautiful irony that in a city where Jews once wore stars declaring them Jude, I walked on the same streets proudly sporting a hat declaring me Jewlicious. Cheesy as it often is, I couldn’t help but silently sing a little Am Yisrael Chai.
More on the trip when I get back from the shuk…and looking for a home for Michael and ck.