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Memory is the  Secret to Redemption

04/07/2021 06:55:25 PM


Mei libeinu anachnu sharim
Mei libeinu anachnu sharim
Uv’charta bachayim
Uv’charta bachayim…Chayim

From our hearts we sing
From our hearts we sing
Choose life
Choose life…life
Uv’charta bachayim, Uv’charta bachayim
L’ma-an tichyeh uzchor
Ki baz’chirah sod geulah
Sod geulah mei libeinu

Choose life and choose life
In order that you shall live
For in memory lies the secret of redemption
The secret of redemption from our hearts.

There was this bridge down at “Kibbutz” at Camp Swig in Saratoga, CA.  Dirt roads over a great big hill and back down again, maybe a 10-minute walk from main camp, but to me, it always felt like we were going somewhere truly specia
If we had a really good counselor, they knew to gather us at the foot of this bridge before we crossed it and into the building on the other side.  It was a beautiful wooden bridge, with tile-lined walls, and with colored tiles, the words – “Memory is the secret to redemption.” 
We would walk quietly and respectfully, past these words and enter into the Holocaust memorial.  An artist named Helen Burke was a camp celebrity there.  She wasn’t Jewish but she found profound inspiration in bringing life to these words with her craft. She was a metal worker and with both strength and finesse, she made copper and bronze unfurl, blossom, and sprout.  The tree of life came to life in that space.  On one side, giant windows exposing the trunks of trees; on the other the tree tops – life can always move forward and up – a message for a place inspired by the Shoah – the greatest destruction imposed upon the Jewish people in our history. 
Memory is the secret to redemption…what did those words mean, I wondered as a kid.  I mean what did they really mean?  For me, today, it is the stark and humble reminder that we are so much more vulnerable to the slings and arrows, the fates, and conjectures of life than we ever truly wish to believe.  Perhaps it’s a requirement to get through the day, this ability to live with that denial.  But is it a detriment as well?  Our ability to forget?  To turn away?  To pretend?  One must move on, for sure.  Or perhaps living isn’t so impossible even when we carry the broken pieces forward.  Perhaps to remember is to re-member ourselves to the losses we would prefer to leave behind.  On Yom HaShoah we light lights so that we can pick up the pieces once more and place them in our hearts. 


Mon, September 27 2021 21 Tishrei 5782