Today we did our yoga class without music, with our eyes closed, and had to shut off all internal chatter, “to help us recharge from this overstimulated world we live in.”
It helped, it’s been a crazy week…
My glasses broke last week which meant vision troubles and headaches all week, as well as several car trips in the traffic to the eye specialist, all of which was, as Judith Viorst might say, a terrible-horrible-no-good-waste-of-time.
After the adjustment on Friday I went to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Have you ever been to a Holocaust Museum? This little one, which was founded by a group of survivors in 1961, is the oldest in the States. It recently moved into a beautifully designed new building (by Belzberg Architects from Santa Monica).
At the museum I met two 82 year-old survivors from Auschwitz, Eva who grew up in a small village in Hungary, and Mary, from Budapest.
When the Nazi’s came for them, they were given an hour to pack, one bag per person, Mary told us: “We wore as many layers of clothes as we could, my mother packed the little food we had in the house, bread, eggs, cheese… but there’s very little space in one suitcase, and we weren’t given any time to prepare a picnic,” and looking in the distance she said, “Hah some picnic!”
“My family were moved during passover, so we didn’t even have bread to take with us,” Eva said, and she shivered as she recalled how their neighbors came out their houses and watched her family walking to the train station, “But even though we knew those people so well, no one ran over with a piece of bread, or a kind word.” Her mother, her four sisters, and her niece went to Auschwitz. Two of them survived.
“If you could take one bag, what would you put in it?” Mary asked me.
“Photographs,” I said. “And the silver candlesticks.”
I would’ve starved.
“I only have one or two photos from my childhood. I was lucky to get them from an uncle who’d moved to America before the War,” Mary said, “When we arrived at Auschwitz after that terrible train journey standing up squashed in that cattle car one little bucket in the corner…. ” she stopped talking, looked away, sighed deeply, “they took our clothes, our suitcases, we couldn’t hide a single thing. We lost it all, they even shaved our heads.”
“None of my relatives survived,” Mary said, “When we were liberated I didn’t know where else to go, so I went back ‘home‘, back to Budapest. I saw a girl in my high school wearing my coat, the one my mother had had specially made for me, and the matching scarf my grandmother knitted, and all the girl could say was, ‘So you’re back?’ No thank god you survived, welcome home, or even lovely to see you. Just, ‘so you’re back…?’
“Did she give you back your coat?” I asked
“Nothing. Not a word about my coat!” Mary said.
And I was whining about my glasses?
* * * * *
I didn’t know anything about the Jewish origins of Flamenco.
My friend Dinah went with the Israeli musician Yuval Ron (above) who plays an instrument called the oud, on his tour of the historic area of Andalusia, in southern Spain. Earlier in the week I was fortunate to go with her to hear the ensemble playing the beautiful Andalusi style of music “created by Jews and Muslims over a period of 600 years“.