“From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.” ~Genesis 13:3-4
I read a powerful article on the New York Times website the other day. It was titled, “Proudly Bearing Elders’ Scars, Their Skin Says ‘Never Forget’.”
The article was focusing on the way young Israelis have chosen to honor their family members who survived the Holocaust: they are doing so by getting matching tattoos.
Eli Sagir got the same number as her grandfather, 157622. While hers was done at a trendy tattoo parlor, his was put there by the Nazis at Auschwitz. The following week, her mother and brother did they same. Ms. Sagir feels that the Holocaust is akin to the Exodus from Egypt, and becoming ancient history to people. She wanted the same tattoo as her grandfather to remind people of the events that occurred – and to keep people from forgetting.
Ayal Gelles calls his number, A-15510, an inheritance. His number also matches that of his grandfather, Avraham Nachson, who was interred at Birkenau. Mr. Nachson lost his mother and sister to the gas chamber there, and says he still has nightmares about running from the Germans. Mr. Gelles says his tattoo reminds him to call his grandfather regularly, to keep their connection strong.
To me, this is a humbling way of keeping a memory of something terrible alive. As the professor that the Times interviewed for the article stated, we are moving from living memory of the Holocaust to historical memory. By getting the tattoos that their grandparents had, these descendants are becoming living reminders of what transpired.
Abraham built altars to the Lord through book of Genesis. And while his altars were built out of praise to the Lord, I believe these young Jewish people are building a similar kind of altar. They are celebrating survival, that the Lord brought them through an attempt to wipe them off of the earth. As Ms. Sagir said at the end of the article, if we forget, it will happen again. Likewise, we need to make every effort to remember what God has brought us through – and what He will continue to carry us through.
To read the complete article, click here.