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That Aha Moment - Berlin, Germany
My family history is deeply tied to the Holocaust and the impact it had on the Ashkenazi Jewish community. I lost an entire branch of my family tree to the Nazi regime... The only surviving members of my family were in the US. My great grandfather, born and raised Jewish, lost his faith in god as he became older because he felt that any god that took his father from him at a young age was no god of his. He married an Italian Catholic woman who was strong and outspoken knew nothing of the Jewish faith but went out of her way to preserve what she could of the family name and faith through food, language, and stories. Think about it, an Italian catholic working woman who spoke Yiddish (Hebrew slang), bore a Austrian Jewish married name with pride, took her kids to catholic church, worked hard to learn all of the family recipes and share them, had the star of David along side the cross, and made sure that her children knew where they came from in the late 1940's and 50's. She made sure that both families were represented in their household, even when she knew that her husband had lost his faith through trying to heal from a great loss. On my study abroad, I made a 24 hour trip to Berlin, on the 30th anniversary of the wall coming down. I made sure to prioritize any holocaust memorial that I could see, and fell into the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Topography of Terror. At the Jewish Museum I was wandering the main exhibit, a minimal architecture prioritized trance. The building held such impact at expressing the grief and other traumatizing emotions that impacted the community as a whole. In wandering the different axis there was a exhibition room empty, for the first time since the museum opened, being empty one last time before a more permanent exhibit was put in. As I walked through the Libeskind building I had never felt closer to my great grandparents, understood how my popup felt and why he had lost his faith, why my nani took it as her responsibility to preserve our family history. I felt the pain and isolation my popup felt, the anger and resentment he held on to for so long. I felt both of them next to me walking through all of the exhibits comforting me and holding my hand. I lost my popup when I was barely 1 year old and my nani when I was 20. Having both of them there next to me was something unexpected and amazing.
That Aha Moment
Western Washington University
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