Last Sunday was Easter for the Orthodox. I know because my sister converted to Greek Orthodox before she got married. The Orthodox calendar seems to be more closely tied to Passover. My sister and I were raised Episcopalian, so this year, when it was Easter to me, it was now my sister’s Palm Sunday.
Most Sundays, I go to an aqua yoga class – which was cancelled on my Easter but not on my sister’s. Here in California, there are several places where aqua yoga is offered in natural mineral water. It is something no one should miss. We call it the Church of the Healing Waters and our teacher concludes each session with “Namaste.” I’ve read it means “I bow to the divine in you” or something similar. We all put our hands together over our hearts because that is what she does. We all love her.
There is a woman in the class, let’s call her Sarah. I’d heard her say before “I’m over 90 years old and I take no medications.” (Wow! Lucky her, I’d thought). She has an accent – Eastern European it seemed – not that I have anything against that. I love accents.
She started talking and shared.
“What I say is that yesterday is history, today is a gift, and tomorrow is a mystery.”
“That’s not original to me. I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt.
I didn’t like President Roosevelt. It’s because of him the Nazis could kill so many Jews. He did nothing, did not welcome us. Because of him, no other country did either. We had no where to flee. All, ALL, of my relatives were murdered. When I was 14, the Nazi’s led me out to shoot me, to kill me, and I escaped.” Then she choked up. And those of us listening did too.
She said “I’m fine. I’m fine. I am a miracle. I’ve had eight miracles.”
She let us know she didn’t want to discuss it further.
I already knew of another of her miracles. Her house and everything in it, EVERYTHING in it, burned down a year or two ago during the California wildfires. She was unharmed. Those things in her house never mattered to her as much as her lost family did back in the homeland. She didn’t share what the other six miracles were.
Later in the day, I picked up the New York Times and read of a woman, Tatyana Lakhay, who looked out her window in Belarus and saw people in protective suits with masks, walking around the property adjacent to where she lived. Developers were in the process of digging the foundation for luxury housing. But she knew something was wrong when she registered that she was looking at hundreds and hundreds of human bones that had been unearthed.
Last I checked, it was up to 1,214 bodies. Killed by the Nazis. Buried where no one knew. Or… where someone knew, many people knew, but never revealed. Jews were over 30% of the population in Belarus before the Nazis arrived.
If you look up Belarus on Wikipedia, it says “By the end of 1941, there were more than 5,000 troops devoted to rounding up and killing Jews.” Five Thousand. I don’t know where my classmate lived but wonder and wonder – How did she escape??? And then, how did she survive?
The US only entered the war in December 1941, after Pearl Harbor was attacked. The war had started over two years earlier.
Here in California, last Saturday, the last day of Passover, a 19 year-old gunman showed up at the Chabad of Poway and began shooting and killing.
It’s so distressing.
I don’t know what to do except write about it.