[Author’s note: This is the final installment of a four-part series]
“… let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil… Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
~ Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 16 August 1967
At the final banquet closing the Holocaust Remembrance Project seminar, in the nation’s oldest federal courthouse overlooking beautiful Boston Harbor, with representatives of the U.S. State Department, the Israeli embassy and other dignitaries in attendance, it was Izzy Arbeiter that I sought-out as we left the grand hall. I had to let him know how his past memories and my present reality had somehow collided in that other-dimensional plane that we may not fully experience now, yet one day will.
It’s increasingly apparent to me that the phenomenon we refer to as “memory” is a concrete tangible reality residing in a parallel dimension, just as what we refer to as “the afterlife” is also a concrete tangible reality geographically parallel to our present physical reality. If Memory is real and reality is life, then the act of “remembrance” must be recognized as a vital metaphysical force that sustains and influences human life in truly significant ways that we don’t fully understand. The terrifying upshot of this realization being that it makes the destruction or denial of historical human memory a devastatingly real form of “metaphysical genocide” tantamount to the “spiritual ethnic cleansing” of the collective soul of a people. To a Holocaust survivor, for instance, to deny or destroy historical memory is to threaten what they know to be the truth of their entire human reality and that of their people. As a survivor of Dachau recalls:
“The SS guards took pleasure in telling us that we had no chance of coming out alive, a point they emphasized with particular relish by insisting that after the war the rest of the world would not believe what happened; there would be rumors, speculations, but no clear evidence, and people would conclude that evil on such a scale was just not possible.” [Quoted in: “Holocaust And Human Behavior,” Facing History and Ourselves]
And so it is that when I found Izzy I told him, with a resolutely broken heart: “I want you to know that as my life goes on I will intentionally pause during meaningful moments with my sons, Joshua and Aaron, to think of you and your brother, Josek, and say a b’rucha (blessing) for you and your family.” He looked me in the eye, smiled knowingly and said, “Thank you,” nodding as our hands fell to our sides and we parted.
It was imperative that I do something tangible before leaving Boston to confirm Izzy’s personal reality beyond his own recognizance or something absolutely essential to the positive maintenance of the Universe would be lost. Of this, I am sure. I needed to connect the space between the two co-existent realities, creating a passageway allowing for the traffic of Memory.
There is something essential to our well-being occurring in the ethereal space that Memory inhabits. It’s increasingly apparent to me that the active engagement of active, ongoing Remembrance wreaks havoc with the unrelenting forces of Evil, sabotaging the metaphysical highways of hate that traverse the vast expanse of the universe.
So it is that I keep my pledge to Izzy: launching little warhead-tipped blessings in remembrance of the Arbeiter family from the secure strongholds of life-giving time spent with my sons. This is why his past and my present collided in the eternal ether. Hell cannot prevail against such acts of loving remembrance unleashed. When the truth of a broken heart breaks another’s heart, intentional acts of remembrance can and will unleash nuclear warheads of healing love into the universe.
Shabbat shalom. May our own precious memories remind us to defend the memories of others. And may Hell increasingly cease to prevail, causing Heaven to rejoice over every victory won through the intentional remembrance of those who have gone before us.