‘When I was little, I used to try and imagine myself and everyone I know in the ghetto.’ – Libby, 19

I am a fourth generation to the Holocaust. I am a great-grand daughter to Holocaust survivors.

Today I know that the Holocaust and holocaust remembrance was and is a major part for building my personal identity.

When I was little, I used to try and imagine myself and everyone I know in the ghetto. Tried and never succeeded.

When I grew up, I decided that I am mad at God. How could he let all of that happen? Why didn't he perform a miracle to stop it? What makes him different then all of those who stood by and watched?
When I grew up, I decided that I will not make the trip to Poland with my school or with my youth movement. I knew that I will not get answers there but only questions. Even before I had more questions than I could handle.

When I understood that I need to find another way, one that will be fit for me, I went to the world peace conference by the organization "Rotary" as a part of the Israeli delegation. In the conference, that took place in Poland, I met teenagers of my age that came to the conference from around the world: Turkey, Germany, Mexico, Ukraine, China and Poland.

The human interaction was astonishing for me.

The conference revolved around current world problems e.g. the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the annexation of the Karim peninsula and Trump's wall. We sat, thought, listened and talked – together. And then it hit me. It is possible! To live side by side to one another and even become friends. For us it took a week and in only took listening and respect. When I came back from the conference I looked for what else I could participate in. I wanted to meet with more new people, to listen to them and at least try and understand them, in hope that something beautiful will blossom from that meeting. That is how I ended up in this year with the Jewish Agency for Israel. 

When I was notified that the destination I will be sent to is Budapest (Hungary) I was so excited from the meaningfulness that I knew I would feel in every moment throughout the year, but was also afraid I would drown in it. A place where holocaust remembrance is daily and local. It's not just "there", it's here, every second of the day, 24/7.

Like many in the Jewish community of Budapest, I lived in the area that is the international ghetto. On the street right next to me there was a synagogue hidden inside an apartment building. The annual festival held by the Jewish community took place in the end of the Jewish ghetto, right next to it there is a mass grave that was found a few years ago.

And here I am, holding a bag of bamba and a speaker playing Omer Adam songs.
And here are kids, happy kids that are running around between table with little paintings on them that they can paint and tables of face paint.
And here are couples and families and tourists and passengers crossing between the tables and festival booths on their way to a different food festival that takes its place a few blocks from us.

I can not take in this bizarre situation I am in, but I understand its message - Here was the Holocaust, here will be the rebirth of the Jewish people.

Many people tend to say that the state of Israel is the symbol for the rebirth of the Jewish people.
In my eyes, the existence of the Jewish communities in the diaspora, in Europe especially is the symbol of the rebirth.
The Jewish community of Budapest has risen back up even and because of all that has happened, and it's living and breathing.

I had and I do have the honor of a part of this community and to listen to the amazing stories from my special holocaust survivors that I taught once a week. To be present in meaningful moments where my breath was taken away e.g. the Ne'eila prayer of Yum Kippur in the great Synagogue where Binyamin Zeev Herzl celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and Adolf Eichmann has had his talks with the local Judenrat, or a cooking program for Hanukah in a holocaust museum and lighting Hanukah candles in a synagogue with a holocaust survivor that is lighting Hanukah candles for the first time.

When I managed to comprehend the fact that with the memory of holocaust in me and my family, which is also embedded in the memory of my home country and is here and here to stay, I have one thing left for me to do –

To thank for this right. The right to be shinshinit in such a complex place. The right to be in a conference that change how I look on the world. The right to be honest enough to keep on asking. The right to be a living proof for a family that fought and survived and preserved and won. The right to be an Israeli, a Zionist and a Jew. The right to be something bigger than me, to be part of a people.

Thank you.

And now all that there is for me to hope from this people – is for us to learn how to live together.

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Izraeli Kulturális Intézet

Budapest, Paulay Ede u. 1, 1061 Hungary

© 2020 by The Jewish Agency for Israel