[Cz-L] The Jewish History Museum in Czernowitz

From: Attiyeh <rea_at_ucsd.edu>
Date: Wed, 02 Apr 2008 01:19:56 -0700
To: josefz_at_svitonline.com
Reply-to: Attiyeh <rea_at_ucsd.edu>

Dear Mr. Zissels

The Jewish tradition requires that we continue to speak of all those
who have died, to tell their stories, no matter what the cause of
their death. Why? Because it honors them, it keeps their memory alive
"for a blessing", as the tradition tells us. We do this on their
yartzeit, the anniversary of their death, and we do this in the
naming of our children after them, and we do this in our hearts. We
do it as a whole community, in our synagogues, at Sabbath services,
and we devote an entire service to this practice on Yom Kippur, our
most holy of holidays. Remembering and naming our dead keeps them
alive for our children and our children's children, reminds us that
we are part of a continuing fabric of love and caring. Giving
charitably in their names is a Mitzvah. So long as we remember them,
and honor them in public as well as in private, their lives continue
to have meaning, significance, no matter whether they died peacefully
or in suffering.

Most of those lost during the dreadful Holocaust years in our
ancestral city of Cernivtsi and in the whole Bukovina region were
never properly buried, and the sad truth is that because of the
Holocaust many of their names are not even known, their personal
records having been destroyed along with their lives. Yet these are
our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, our cousins, and for many
still living, our parents, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands.
They walked the same streets as Bukovina citizens living today, and
contributed in the same ways to community life. But the perpetrators
of the Holocaust willed them to disappear --- Nameless, without
recognition, as though they had never existed.

The thousands of Jews and non-Jews alike who are now working
tirelessly to reconstruct their families' genealogy, searching
archives for the familial names and milking the few remaining
survivors of those years for stories and snatches of memory, all know
how important it is to commemorate their history as fully and
honestly as possible. It is a concerted effort to knit together the
fabric of our kinship, and to reinforce our humanity by putting the
awful times into context along with the beautiful times. Honesty is
not selective and sometimes it requires courage and the wisdom to do
the right thing.

How then could the first and important Museum of Jewish History in
the Bukovina exclude this part of its history even temporarily? How
could any Museum of Jewish History anywhere, museums being such a
concrete form of remembrance, fail to pay adequate attention to the
most infamous turning point in the Jewish story? How can such a
Museum elect not to honor our lost ones by naming their collective
fate if not their individual ones?

The period of the Holocaust was a period of unprecedented mass
suffering and death, not by any definition a normal part of the cycle
of life to be taken in stride or left out of our consciousness. The
whole world has come to know of this and would be incredulous at its
omission in a History Museum dedicated to preserving the evidence of
a significant culture. In fact the Holocaust has become a worldwide
symbol. It reinforces the essential moral message for everyone of all
cultures that even in beautiful places, even in peaceful times, it is
a conscious choice and obligation to discriminate between humane acts
and acts of inhumanity and cruelty --- a choice we make every day in
our complex world. To ignore this period, even for practical reasons,
is to lose our moral compass.

Please, perform a Mitzvah in behalf of all of us. Validate the lives
of Bukovina Jewry in the Holocaust years. Educate those who could
forget, or, worse, deny, the memory of who and what came before us,
and include the Holocaust period from the Museum's very inception. It
will be a tribute to you as well as to those who suffered. In its
forthright honesty and historical validity it will ensure that our
ancestor's memories are for a blessing, and will encourage many
people to journey to the ancestral homeland as nothing else could do.

Thank you.

Jessica Falikman Attiyeh: daughter, granddaughter,
great-granddaughter, niece, cousin and aunt of many of blessed memory
who were lost from Cernivtsi and the whole Bukovina region.
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Received on 2008-04-02 08:19:56

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