A Tale of Two Chavas
My daughter's reflections on her namesake, a Holocaust survivor
This post is translated from a Hebrew post that my daughter wrote today:
The smile, the joy, the colors, and the pride, versus sadness, darkness, anxiety and fear.
Both 20 year old girls, both named Chava.
My name is Tikvah Chava. I was named Chava after my great-grandmother. For years I hid this name - I didn’t like it so much. Until, last year, I learned to understand the significance of being named after such a person.
They talk about her as a strong, brave, and creative woman. But she didn't talk about the Holocaust. She didn't say a word. The number on the arm was seen here and there when her sleeve accidentally fluttered or did not cover all the way. But she didn't talk about the horrors she went through in the Holocaust. And the only thing we have is this haunting painting. It is the last picture that my great-grandmother painted before she died in 1967, at the age of 42.
This picture that she drew was a self-portrait. This was how she saw herself at the age of 20 from the outside. This was how she remembered herself at the age of 20.
What has she been through at such a young age? Her whole family perished in Auschwitz and only she survived.
Where does one go after such a thing? Why continue? Is there even any future?
These are questions that I wonder maybe she asked herself after what she experienced...
And if these questions were asked, then dear Grandma Chava, here are my answers: Continue to Israel.
Because the people of Israel are our people, God's people.
And is there a future?
Your personal future of about fifty people! One of whom who at this very moment is wearing a military uniform and standing with a siren in the Land of Israel to remember. To remember you and your heroism, and to remember our family and of all six million Jews.
Where did their strength to continue come from? I don't have an answer for that. But my answer is that if they could continue, then who are we to give up? Who are we to fight among ourselves? Let's remember who we are, that we are one nation. Especially on days like these.
The previous generations fought with their body and soul to say the words - we are Jews.
And now it's our turn to shout it out loud to the whole world.
We are Jews!
May they rest in peace.
We will remember them.
Rationalist Judaism is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.