Monday, December 04, 2006
# Posted 12:32 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Vilna was a capital of Jewish culture in the first half of the 20th century. My grandmother studied to become a teacher of Hebrew and spoke the language with fluency. She was a committed Zionist and hoped to emigrate to the land that would become Israel.
Although we don't know many precise details about my grandmother's experiences during the war, it seems that she lived for a time in the Vilna ghetto until being deported to a labor camp in Estonia. Later, she was sent to a concentration camp in Danzig (Gdansk).
My grandmother never spoke of what happened during the war. She refused. She never wanted to revisit the suffering. She wanted to live. However, she did hum and sing the Song of the Partisans, the anthem of those who lived and died in the camps and in the forests.
After the war, my grandmother was a stateless refugee. Not long thereafter, she was brought to Sweden along with other young women survivors. From there, she made contact with relatives living in America. They brought her to this country and introduced her to Morris Adesnik, a widower with two young sons, one of whom would become my father.
After living in the same one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx for almost fifty years, my grandmother's health began to fail and she moved to an assisted living home north of the city. When she moved, my father and his brothers found a journal that my grandmother kept in Europe in the years just after the war. The journal was in Yiddish and they never made much of an effort to have it translated.
But yesterday, while my father was sitting shiva, he and I begin to work on an entry entitled "Rosh Hashana 1946". (Rosh Hashana is the Jewish new year.) My grandmother's words are her testimony. Of strength and eloquence and love. This is what she wrote:
Beloved friends!(18) opinions -- Add your opinion
If the President is truly committed to democracy promotion throughout the Middle East, he must take advantage of that newfound support -- in Jordan and elsewhere -- to resolve the most enduring the conflict in the Middle East.
It would be a fitting legacy for the 43rd President to become known not just as the greatest warrior in the Middle East, but also its greatest peacemaker.
Haha. Yeah, well, if you look back in the archives, he also came up with this gem on 5 May 2003:
Speaking more generally, the highly visible resurgence of Shi'ite devotion suggests that the people of Iraq are thirsting for spiritual liberation as well. But are spiritual liberation and political fundamentalism cut from the same cloth? I don't know and I suspect not. Thus, it may be correct to describe the Iraqi mainstream as "profoundly religious" without suggested that it is also anti-democratic.
How about this;
While Josh is right that the administration expected a more enthusiastic response, today's parade in Najaf does make Josh look foolish for passing such premature judgment on the merits of the administration's strategy. As Andrew points out, even the NYT presented Najaf as a straightforward example of liberation.
While the absence of any sort of uprising in Basra has been disappointing, there is still good reason to believe the Coalition will be hailed there as liberators once the army and paramilitaries are ousted.
April 02 2003
This is the best:
I wouldn't be all that suprised if Mubarak & Co. actually believe what they are saying. After all, it's hard for dictators to survive unless they are somewhat paranoid. Better to crush threats that don't exist than fail to notice one that does.
Warning of an anti-American backlash also has the pleasant side-effect of distracting both Americans and Arabs from recognizing the true cause of instability in the Middle East -- the total prevalence of brutal dictatorships.
The first step toward dispelling such illusions is the democratization of Iraq. Let the people of the Middle East see that freedom is a real option. Then they will slowly begin to recognize who is on their side and who isn't.
David on 1st April 2003
I'm completely confused -- what do any of these comments have to do with the post? The writers may be making a valid point, but it is not appropriate to be making it under this post.
David, I am very sorry for your loss.
it's funny to look back at posts where Adesnik even takes issue with the use of the term 'killed'. His obsession with little indications of 'liberal bias' now seems pretty bizarre.
EMOTIONAL RESPONSE: I just visited, for the first time, the CNN site devoted to Coalition casualties in the war. It is very hard to read. It is very hard to look at the pictures of the men who died, most of them younger than myself.
They shouldn't have had to die. They deserve better. It is almost impossible to keep anything in perspective when looking at their photos. I kept thinking to myself: "Why don't we just stop it now? Let's pull out and go home. Let these kids live the lives they deserve."
Chemical weapons and international law seem like nothing more than abstractions when you are looking at those photos. You forget the thousands of Iraqi soldiers who have died. The thousands of Iraqi civilians killed by their government. The men and women who died on September 11th.
Somehow, looking at those pictures, my mind was only able to focus on the most immediate cause of their death. "Killed in action near Nasiriya on March 23, 2003." "Killed in a U.S. CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crash on March 21, 2003." Killed. Period.
UPDATE: MW responds:
Your emotional response to the CNN posting is understandable - just what CNN wants - that they have not posted pictures of those killed in Israel by suicide bombers, the Iraqis murdered by Saddam, those starved by Mugabe or by the regime in North Korea.
Put pictures of your family and friends on a wall and imagine what life or death would be like for them if tyrants like Saddam gained dominance.
I suspect that is what many of those serving in Iraqi Freedom have dealt with. I hate that they have died. I hate that evil exists and to contain it we must confront it.
Sad but true.
i guess they think D.A will notice it under this post...
I havent seen any of this mentioned before.
do most bloggers post public obituaries to their relatives?
Randy, Dan, thank you for your condolences. Your generosity of spirit is very much welcome at this sad moment.
A eulogy online can never replace the act of mourning in person, at a funeral or in a house of shiva, but I do believe it is an important way to share with others the legacy of those who have passed.
My grandmother was an extraordinary woman. In spite of all her suffering, she never lost her hope or her strength. She never became embittered. Instead, the cruelty of others was one more reason to set an example of kindness.
She will be greatly missed.
David, as you've described her, it sounds as though much of her lives on in you.Post a Comment
May you live out her days, my friend, and my heartfelt condolences.