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  • Writer's pictureBev Spritzer

We're still here.

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

My dad's parents, Avram and Sonya, were both Holocaust survivors.

They had full families before the war - people they loved, married, birthed, and raised - yet, when all was said and done, only Avram and Sonya emerged on the other side.

After the war, Avram from Austria and Sonya from Lithuania, met in a DP (displaced persons) camp in Germany - strangers, brought together by horrific circumstance. They fell in love. They began again.

My Auntie Lily was born in the DP camp, before they moved overseas to Montreal, where my father Marvin was born. His first language was Yiddish.

Their tiny home in Montreal was essentially an Eastern European time capsule. My father's first paycheque went towards a small window air conditioning unit for Avram and Sonya's bedroom. It didn't stop the night terrors, but it certainly helped keep cool at night in the humid summers.

The generational trauma that comes with being a child of Holocaust survivors etches itself into one's DNA, and is, indeed, felt by subsequent generations.

I always think about them, Avram and Sonya, my late Zaida and Bubbie. I think about the strength required to lose everything, everyone, and to then somehow, despite everything, move forward.

I think about how I wouldn't be here if the Holocaust never happened, which is by far the strangest thought experiment of all time.

But it gives me a kind of clarity about life. It makes me feel like I need to use my voice as if lives depend on it. Somehow, we are still here. I can't allow us to be erased. Not now.

I feel a profound sense of duty. I need to keep going. For my small, sweet children, for my people, but especially for those who cannot. I feel a deep need to put something good out in the world, even if the good is simply energy. Kindness. Words.

I think about Israel, about Jews everywhere reliving history, over and over again. I think about the innocent civilians whose own people will happily use them as human shields. And I wrestle with a guilt so large and amorphous about being free, about existing at all, about living in Canada and not in an active war zone, and at times I can barely breathe.

And then I remember. I need to keep going.

It is such a privilege to be able to look away when it feels like too much. To go about our lives. To use our voices. To celebrate joy wherever we find it. To wear our lineage with pride when others cannot safely do so.

We are so much more powerful than we realize.

Our mere existence is proof.

My story begins with Avram and Sonya.

But it will not end with me.

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Oct 16, 2023

So well said. Here’s what I wrestle with.

The sad irony of it all is that , from my experience , survivors came here to provide a safer/better environment for their future generations. The whole “never again” Philosophy. On a micro level: never wanting their families to experience what they did , and on a macro level: not wanting the world to experience it. Yet they moved to a place that guarantees certain freedoms . Including the freedom to express an opinion that is deplorable .

So….while they came here to shelter us from it, they also came to a place that frankly is making me feel less safe and certainly less secure as a Jew and a proud believer…

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