Holocaust Remembrance Week April 19-26th winds down, obscured by the privations and political chaos of this pandemic. The annual global remembrance forced to retreat to a place of private prayer and digital remembrance. This year’s calendar coincided with Hitler’s birthday April 20th, immediately followed by Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 21st. I couldn’t help but feel the irony that of all the calendar years, these two dates would fall back-to-back in the middle of yet another historic and political trauma.
Dramatically different in important ways, yet dangerously similar in important ways.
All of a sudden, the entire world is in the same boat. Everyone is afraid of this invisible but all powerful enemy that strikes anyone at random. Everyone afraid of having loved ones who will end up in a hospital without us; people dying on their own; abundant lives and jobs stripped; struggling lives reduced to the streets; finger pointing, denial; a fear of who and what to trust; religious, sexual/ gender blaming; stereotyping and marginalizing of race; all music, dance, theater, art, culture and education upended.
All of it contributing to a pervasive dread that nowhere is recognizable or safe.
It’s another round of showing us who is a leader and who is not. It is another round of showing us who is a madman taking us all to the brink of destruction in selfish maniacal delusion, surrounded by other denying maniacs that have been drawn to the flame of insanity. It is another round of showing us that unless we collectively re-evaluate what we value, question materialism and its empty greed, learn to truly share, not share with condescending conditions but take care of others, value talents in others that need to be nurtured and protected, take care of the places where we not only live, but the planet that has graciously hosted us and put up with the darkness that only the human species can create, History continues to raise the question: Has the human race really earned the karma for its survival?
I offer my remembrance with a gorgeous piece, The Heavenly Feast by Robert Beaser that I had the honor to perform and record live for the Milken Foundation with the Seattle Symphony. The poem honors the life of Simone Weil the French mystic and philosopher who died from a hunger strike protesting the expulsion of Jews from France to Auschwitz. The text is from a poem written by Gjertrud Schnackenberg, originally from Tacoma Washington.