On Wednesday 22 November 2023 the newly rebuilt and refurbished Holocaust Museum in Elsternwick opened its doors. It is an extraordinary building, stunning in its simplicity and remarkable in the light and air it brings into the dark history it commemorates. It’s a place of memory and history but also one of meaning and legacy -now more than ever we need to affirm its message for humanity. Now when the world is faltering and moral clarity and courage are in short supply we need to be sure to find the strength and hope that feed and nourish the human spirit. And not to despair , for despair only saps us .Remember the words of Nelson Mandela:it always seems impossible until its done.
This is a poem and a blessing I wrote for the occasion: Please click here to watch the video
We Remember The Darkness
Today we remember the darkness.
Today we reach back into the long black nights
(Ha Laylot Halalu Koolo Choshech)
No light in this cattle carriage mamma
No light in this barren barrack papa.
Oh my people – you who filled this planet with so much colour and light-
Too many a dark night
(Vechoshech Al pnei te hom).
Skewered by crucifixes
Carved by cutting crescents
Burnt by heils and heps
Trampled by jackboots
And just yesterday -
Plowed by unholy Allah Akhbars.
Today in this loving light place of shade
Today we remember not to forget
And today we remember to forget.
Not to forget the casual calloused heart of human kind
But to forget those who would carelessly incinerate our fiery bushes.
Don’t they know the more you burn us the more you ignite us ?
That we may be wounded, our flesh charred
But our spirit burns ,oh how it burns.
Oh my Lord
Tattie daddy abba Avinu
Don’t forsake me
just hold me for a little longer.
Hold me like you hold the stars
Name me like you name the stars
Let the new sparks grow out of the black earth, out of the charred ovens.
Today we will climb the beams of light
Even as dark rockets pound the fields of Zion
Even as serpentine shadows surround our serene suburbs
We will declare Eden in Elsternwick
We are here to stay and ride our wild lions of Judah into the future
To join the ancient dreamers of this crusty continent.
We the people of the dream -hayinu kecholmim-
We the dream people meet here the people of the dreamland
We will not cease our dreaming …
And a prayer:
Mizmor Shir Chanukat HaBayit
A prayer for this house of memory -
May your doors bring in minds that will learn and grow
Hearts that will feel and expand
Souls that will nurture and soar.
May your gates burst open and spill your stories of courage and compassion into the streets
Spread your tales of dignity and
the lovely colours of our differences
Your conviction that remembrance brings redemption
humanity heals a wounded spirit
And generosity grows in the broken bones
That hatred only hurts and festers
That love is stronger than death
That light lingers and gently insinuates itself into the shadows and shrouds.
In this house of memories we will let the light in
From this house of memory we will let the light flow out..
Ralph R Genende OAM
Australian Jewish News Article - Melbourne Holocaust Museum reopens