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October 06, 1989 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-10-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I OPINION

I CONTENTS

A Yom Kippur Ritual
Linking Generations

AVIVA KEMPNER

E

very Yom Kippur my
prayers and thoughts
are especially with my
grandmother, Helen Ciesla. I
bear her first name as my
middle one.
Of my three grandparents
who died during the
Holocaust, I know only the
date of her death. Growing
up, I was told that cousin
Aaron remembered last see-
ing her alive on Yom Kippur
at Auschwitz.
Although I never found our
the exact date or year, I have
treasured knowing there was

Five years ago I
was able to take
my Yom Kippur
ritual one step
further.

a specific holiday I could use
to commemorate her death as
well as that of all my other
relatives.
So years ago, the Day of
Atonement took on a special
significance for me. On that
day I would mourn the death
of the bubbie who I had never
known. Every year when I
fast on Yom Kippur, I find
myself imagining the
cruelties of life at Auschwitz.
As I sit there without drink-
ing or eating, I force myself to
picture life as a slave laborer
in a state of near starvtion.
And as I light a yahrtzeit
memorial candle in their
memory, I pray for the inno-
cent souls of my grandmother
and family who never lived to
see liberation day in Europe.
Five years ago I was able to
take my Yom Kippur ritual
one step further. During the
summer of 1984 I took a
research trip to Poland for my
film. Although my trip
itinerary was centered in
Warsaw, I was determined to
also visit Auschwitz. In
preparation for my trip I was
told to take chocolate and cof-
fee for presents as there was
a shortage of such items in
Poland.
I was in New York City just
before I left for Poland and
found myself buying an addi-
tional item, a yahrtzeit can-
dle, that I assumed was lack-
ing in modern day Poland,
almost stripped bare of
Jewish identity and souls. I

Former Detroiter Aviva
Kempner is the producer of
the 'Partisans of Vilna.'

decided on the spot that I
would carry this Jewish
memorial candle to
Auschwitz.
During my brief stay in
Poland I visited several
synagogues, which were in
disuse and smelled of cold-
ness and mildew. I pictured
the ghosts of Jews everywhere
— among the streets of War-
saw and Cracow, and even in
Auschwitz.
The afternoon I went to
Auschwitz was a bright and
sunny summer day. As I had
been viewing hours of
documentary footage taken of
starved bodies pressed
against the barbed wire at
this death camp, I was total-
ly unprepared to accept the
visual image I beheld that
day. There were dozens of
Polish families coming to
Auschwitz. They were ' all
healthy looking and well
dressed. No one of course, had
tattered concentration camp
inmate uniforms. I was also
taken aback to see the
various shops that were doing
a brisk business outside the
camp museum. One could buy
flowers and ice cream and
lunch while visiting
Auschwitz. It had the ap-
pearance of a normal tourist
attraction.
All of a sudden I realized
that my instincts had been
correct. I walked around for a
couple of hours to find the
right location. Finally I came
to one of the crematoriums
and took out my memorial
candle — made in Tel Aviv,
bought in New York City, and
carried to Asuchwitz and lit
in memory of my grand-
mother and grandfather, aunt
and other relatives who had
died there. I recited a prayer
for them and all the Jews who
had perished. It was the sole
Jewish candle I saw that day
at Auschwitz among the
thousands of other burning
wicks.
Two days later at the air-
port I met another child of a
survivor who had been at
Auschwitz the day after my
visit. When I told her my
story she confessed how hap-
py she was to come upon my
yahrtzeit candle, burned to
the bottom and still sitting
there, and to feel that a
Jewish prayer had been made
there.
I pledged at the Warsaw air-
port to tell future visitors to
always hand-carry a
memorial candle — for my
grandmother and our collec-
tive memory on Yom Kip-
pur. CI

CLOSE-U P

Wielder Of The Sword
And The Plowshare

24

JAMES BESSER
Ariel Sharon is a soldier
with roots deep in Israeli soil.

BUSINESS

47

Anything But Old Hat

47

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM
From Georgie Jesse! to Coleman Young,
Seymour Wasserman tops them all.

SPORTS

Not Only For Princes

52

MIKE ROSENBAUM
Area horsemen show that polo
is not only for the aristocracy.

ENTERTAINMENT

67

SuperBlooper

MIKE ROSENBAUM
Bernie's Bloopers made him a star.
How did he do it? We've got highlights .. .

PROFILE

67

The Elephant Keeper

84

.

KIMBERLY LIFTON
Elephant expert Hezy Shoshani
wants to bring elephants to Israel.

6

LIFESTYLES

CARLA JEAN SCHWARTZ
Paramedic and naturalist Jonathan Schechter
rescues people and animals.

DEPARTMENTS

28
42
60
80
82

Inside Washington
Synagogues
Cooking
Fine Arts
Travel

88
95
97
105
130

Engagements
Births
Singles
Classified
Obituaries

CANDLELIGHTING

84

October 6, 1989
6:48 p.rn.
Shabbat ends Oct. 7 7:47 p.m.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

7

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