As we begin the month of Nissan, we prepare for our Passover Seders, both physically cleaning our home and spiritually cleansing our souls. While Passover is the birth of the Jewish people, we must not forget that the days following Passover lead to the narrative of the modern Exodus, from the depths of the Holocaust to the rebirth of the promised land of Israel.
After reading the Haggadah, a book full of memory, we are once again commanded never to forget. As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindle, the next generations must take it upon themselves to tell the stories they heard.
During the Magid section of our Seder, we are told, bchol dor vador chayav adam lirto et atzmot keelo yatza mimitzrayim, in every generation we must see ourselves as if we were taking out of Egypt.
This past year, Avraham Perlmutter, of blessed memory, passed away. Born in Vienna before the Shoah, Avraham was hidden by a Dutch family, the Beijers.
Two generations after the war, Avraham’s family and the Beijers see each other as family; Avraham’s family in California, and the Beijers still residing in the Netherlands.
For Yom HaShoah, this year, we are honored to share Avraham’s story of survival and his connection with the Bejers family.
In my own lifetime, I have been blessed to meet Righteous Gentiles who have been recognized for their courage to save Jews and speak up in a time that risked their own lives.
But yesterday, I witnessed the power of their actions from generation to generation. With the miracle of Zoom, I was in conversation with Avraham’s daughter and the Beijer grandchildren.
I asked these millennials, “When did you learn about your grandfather saving Avraham’s life?” They answered, “It has always been part of our story!”
On Passover, the majority of our Seder is spent telling the story of our people.
Today, we must not tell that story alone. For we need our friends to tell our stories and we must tell their stories, too.
Tomorrow we will read parshat Vayikra, the beginning of the holiness code. It begins with the word Vayikra, and God called. The aleph at the end of the word is silent. It is only when we put a vowel under that letter that it begins to make sound.
The same is true with the story of our people. It lies dormant until we vocalize our past, transmit it to the present, with the hope that years later, our stories too will be told.