Shoah Child
(Its a Difficult Thing)
By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © Rosh Hashanah, 5774

(September 06, 2013; most recent update February 6, 2015),

Like many others born after the Holocaust (Shoah), I have vivid memories that can only be explained through reincarnation. For this reason I am completely convinced that what is known in Judaism as gilgul neshamot, the rolling of souls, is true. We exist beyond this lifetime. What God has created, the soul, lives on after our bodies.

Like many others, my memories have been met with varying responses. Most rabbis I have shared my experiences with have accepted the validity of my memories; one has expressed skepticism. Given the continuing impact of the Shoah on the Jewish psyche our memories are difficult for some to accept. I respect this. The purpose of this piece is not to bash the skeptics (God-forbid) but rather to express honestly and openly the frustration many of us feel around this issue. My thoughts on this continue below my poem.

Shoah Child

Its a difficult thing
to see a world others deny,
to feel their skeptical sting
about the way one's soul doth fly.

"Go to a rabbi!
He will understand!
Explain your situation.
He'll help develop a plan.
A way to be restored
To our people, our nation.
A warm, loving hand..."

But its a difficult thing
to have memories that linger on,
to live with the sorrows remembering brings,
to be told: "even if true" those days are long gone
"Get over it!" "You dreamed it. Move on!"

But those days are not over,
at least not for me.
Although this body has grown old --
my fire once hot, now waxes cold --
yet within me still, and not so deep,
there remains this young Shoah boy,
still desperate to flee. To flee. To flee.

"Flee to a rabbi!
He will understand!
Explain your situation.
He'll help develop a plan.
A way to be restored
To our people, our nation.
A warm, loving hand...."

Oh, how they stripped us
of our dignity and our wealth!
How they tormented our bodies
and destroyed our vital health.
All the pain we could handle;
our sufferings, like a candle,
for pain can be snuffed out, but the stealth,
and the doubt, by which they denied our humanity!
Oh how they reduced us to animals, no to less.
They even made us question, 'Where is the Bless'd?'

But fires burn out
And ovens shut down.
In time the dead are buried,
May their souls the Merciful God ferry.
The survivors continue on,
Most scarred and cast down
The world said, "truly sorry!"
They promised "Never again" with sincerest frown
-- until next time -- oh how they fawn!

And we who died in broken bodies,
but never in our souls, truth be told;
yes, we who still remember;
the bodies burning up like timber,
we who still remain, untended like coals
of souls uncared for, unloved, alone.

"Go to a rabbi!
He will understand!
Explain your situation.
He'll help develop a plan.
A way to be restored
To our people, our nation.
A warm, loving hand..."

Dear rabbi I come,
Please, understand my pain.
I share with you my heart
Rely not only on your brain!

I was but a child you see,
And yet forced to be a man;
my bar mitzvot was just past
when they came and I had to flee.
T'was then I saw my parents for the last.

I was on a train
speeding through the night,
and then I was lost,
ever beyond their sight.
What came next, I'll not recite.

Dear rabbi please, dig deep and feel my pain!
You of all men know how they lied!
Please give me your shelter, I can explain.
To you I came, please, be on my side.

Though they denied it, I am human, like you.
Though they condemned it, I am, like you, a Jew.
For me nothing has changed, I know this is true
As a child I was slaughtered, now I turn to you.

Far too many turn us away,
affirming what our enemies say.
They close their doors:
"You're not one of those Jews"
and yet I, a young Shoah boy, remain all alone,
so far away, and trapped within this pain.

Yes, its a difficult thing
to see a world others deny,
to feel their skeptical sting
about the way one's soul doth fly.

No matter their rejection, poor lost Shoah child,
Go find a Rav! Find a friend!
Seek out one who will understand!
Explain your situation, but regardless, stand.
Unafraid, there must be a plan,
some way to be restored
to our people, our nation.
A warm, loving hand.
Please HaShem help them
to hear us, to understand.

Shalom to us all.

Shoah Child

Whenever the subject of the Shoah (Holocaust) comes up among our people the children who suffered and died are usually mentioned with extra remorse. None of the victims deserved what happened of course but when our hearts turn to the murdered children somehow the enormity of the evil that was the Shoah is heightened, more extreme. There are no words.

At least 1.5 million children died in the Shoah, over a million of these innocents were Jews. Where did they go? Many of us are living among you.

Judaism is divided on this issue. While non-Orthodox Jewish authorities do not always accept the ancient teaching of gilgul neshamot (i.e. the 'rolling of souls' from lifetime to lifetime), many of the Orthodox and almost all of the Hasidim do.

There are a great many people today, Jews and non-Jews alike, who have clear memories of their Shoah experiences. When one speaks with these people one can sense the truth of their memories. Many of these victims were born outside of the Covenant this time. I believe this is one reason why so many today are seeking conversion into Judaism. They desperately want to return home, they are being compelled by HaShem to reunite with our people. Unfortunately they often find the doors are closed to them by our rabbis. I have spoken with dozens of such people. This is a disgrace! Those rabbis who accept the realities of gilgul neshamot should be actively seeking these people and helping them return, or at least be open to their requests for help. This is seldom the case.

The Nazi denial of who we are as a people failed. We're still here and the Third Reich is gone! B"H! But for many of their victims the return to our people remains a nearly impossible dream. While heroic efforts are undertaken to return Jews from war zones and tribal dangers in places like Africa (and Baruch HaShem for it!) little to nothing is being done for the Jewish victims of the Shoah who died and have returned broken and confused. For far too many Shoah victims their experiences are neither recognized nor accepted. They fear to even bring the subject up lest they be mocked or censored. Imagine being in your home shul on Yom HaShoah as the victims are being remembered and having to remain silent, knowing that your story must remain unspoken. Hearing speakers presenting third or fourth hand accounts while you who lived and died at their hands must remain silent with your memories. Still alone.

There are no easy answers to this problem but our experiences need to be heard! Not only for our sakes but for the healing of our people entire. We are of the children you mourn over!. We are among you today! We are in your shuls, your churches, your workplaces, your families. And we are being largely rejected, again.

In my case, these memories began surfacing in 1969, a few years before I had heard of the Shoah, through a lifelong recurring dream. Seeking to understand these memories is how I first learned about the Holocaust. In many ways this memory has been the guiding factor of my life, for both good and ill. Last night (i.e. the first day of Rosh Hashanah, 5774) I had the dream/memory again. When I awoke this piece demanded to be written. I thought I'd share it with you. As always, I invite any comments or questions you may have.

For a partial retelling of my Shoah experiences please go HERE.

        For those of us who still remember, the Nightmare is not over.

Shalom and L'Shanah Tovah for a wonderful year whenever you may read this.
     ~ Shlomo

The Holocaust: Learn the Truth About What Really Happened!

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