I recently took my daughter to deliver a care package to an elderly woman in our community. As she stooped down to take the bag from my toddler, I caught a glimpse of fading greenish-bluish numbers on the old woman’s arm. I so wanted to shout, “Rachel! Grasp that hand. Feel the warmth of those fingers. Seventy years ago they were cruelly stolen, and now they are free. Free to caress the pages of a worn prayerbook. Free to brush aside the tears of memory. Free to hold your little hand.
“Look at those numbers, baby girl. They are a testimony to how low people can sink—but more importantly, of how our nation can rise above it; how in spite of untold suffering, this humble grandmother remains fully committed to Torah.”
In the end I said nothing. Yes, I hope and pray that she remembers these special people when they are no longer, and that she carries the memories of those faded numbers with her forever. But even more than remembering, I want her to live. I want her to celebrate and explore her heritage, not because of those who were killed, but because she is alive.