I would not normally use this blog as a venue through which to share my own neurosis, but in this case I think it might be appropriate. So, I'd like to share a bizarre, and terrifying, dream that I had this month. Warning to the reader, this dream was incredibly disturbing, very lucid, and obviously deeply affected me.
I believe that this dream came from two different ‘inspirations,’ so to speak. One of those was the source of my last blog entry and the warped fantasy that Shalom Auslander created. The other is real, and directly personal to me. In order to fully understand the dream that I am about to relay to you, I feel compelled to share that experience.
I was recently sitting in a meeting which was attended by several Holocaust Survivors, including an orthodox Rabbi. The meeting was called to plan our annual Yom HaShoa commemorative event, which will take place on April 19 th , during which the Mouners Kaddish will be recited by the Rabbi. Our conversation clearly triggered a memory for him and he began to explain to us why he became an Orthodox Rabbi, and why it is so significant that he say the Kaddish that evening. When interred at the death camp that he survived, he recalled, the old people were gathered together, waiting, he said, to be taken to their death. They called out to him, and anyone else who might hear them, ‘Who will say the Kaddish for us? Who will pray for us when we are gone?’ At that moment our Rabbi decided that until the end of his life he would recite the Kaddish, in the Orthodox style, three times a day – a commitment that he stuck to and that drove him, upon his immigration to theUnited States (Pittsburgh) to do the work he has continued to do. The part that is exceptionally hard to hear, what haunts him, and now me, and what drives him, is that every time he does this he hears their voices – their ghosts calling to him. Every day, three times a day. I can hear them too; can you?
So in my dream I somehow ended up at a concentration camp, turned themed experience resort. Guests paid money to travel on cattle cars (I’m not joking, I really dreamed this) to a camp where they were treated to essentially everything a person would have been subjected to [sans death or tatoos] in the 1940s at the hands of the Nazis. Resort staff in Nazi uniforms facilitate the exchange of clothes for striped uniforms; guests slept in bunkers on bare wood, and are treated to hard labor during the day. At night, over the loud-speakers, are piped in the voices of those doomed 70 years ago, crying out for someone to say the Mourners Kaddish for them.
I woke in a cold sweat – and with a strange sense of understanding, which I have confirmed though conversations since, that society is not so far from the creation of such atrocious realities – minimizing the Holocaust. Would people of their own free will become tourists and buy such immersion experiences? Would it be really wrong; or would it serve to keep alive the memory and the lessons of the Holocaust – help to not forget and to assure that it will never happen to people again?