Yom HaShoah This Year

Blog image - Yom HaShoah This Year

This year, Yom HaShoah feels different.

It is a personal day for us as my father-in-law is a Holocaust survivor. His father secured fake documents for their family of three, and they lived as gentiles in Poland. Only through quick wit, strategic thinking, and luck did they elude discovery and survive. After the war they escaped to Germany, in 1948 moved to Israel, and then eight years later emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Chicago. Often we set aside time on Yom HaShoah to transcribe the audio tapes my husband’s grandfather made before he died, to create a permanent record of our family history.

This year, the Holocaust is so much more than our personal story. We feel the hatred that brutalized us in the ongoing nightmare that is October 7th. We see its shadows creeping into public discourse as antisemitism rises, and the attempts to delegitimize our state grow bigger and more violent. How can this be? How did this evil resurface? It seems impossible to process or understand. 

But this I do know. My survivor father-in-law has seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild, all of whom are Israeli citizens. Five of his grandchildren have made their way back to and live in Israel, and have served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). They continue to protect our country during this war, in both reserve duty and in mandatory service. During the Holocaust our family’s only option was to hide their Jewish identity in order to survive. And in an increasing number of places in the world today, it does not feel safe to be a Jew. Here, on this Yom HaShoah, we stand proudly and securely as Jews in our own country.  As our students experience this important day with their Muss community, I hope that they feel the strength and the love of the Jewish state and the people of Israel. That they feel the power that sets us apart from the past, and that will help us to navigate these difficult times. And that they hold tight to these feelings even after their Muss experience is over. Am Yisrael chai.


Sima Oberlander AMHSI
Sima is the head of the science department at AMHSI. Originally from Missouri, she and her family now reside in Ra'anana.