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Looking at the Concept of Hunger in a New Way

The theme of my Literature and Composition class at the Culinary Institute of America was hunger. Through journals we explored topics connected to us personally, but all related to hunger.

The Shoah: The Catastrophe

“Od lo avdah tikva-teinu, ha’tikvah bat sh’not al-payim, lih-yot am chofshi b’ar-tzeinu eretz tziyyon v’Yerushalayim.” “Our hope is not yet lost. It is two thousand years old. To be a free people in our land. The land of Zion and Jerusalem.” These are the words of the Israeli National Anthem I said as I was standing in the concentration camp, Auschwitz where 1,100,000 Jewish people were killed by the Nazis. As I was guided from room to room, I noticed hundreds of shoes meant for children that would never be able to wear them again. My eyes filled with tears. I saw the showers where thousands were gassed to death. Tears rolled down my cheeks. The word “oven” gained a new meaning as I was told that this is where people were burned alive. I felt as if I could hear their screams and I had to close my eyes to stop myself from sobbing.

In the center of the concentration camp, Majdanek, there is a memorial that contains human ashes. At this moment I wondered how I got to be the lucky one when millions of people died. How did I get to be the person that just reads about the Holocaust because it is a part of my history and not the present. I am never going to have an answer for this question, but what I do know is that even though the Jewish people were on their deathbeds, they did not give up hope. They had faith that Gd was going to save them. The Germans thought that hunger would be able to wipe out the Jewish population, but they were wrong. They didn’t understand that, “We all die. What matters is how we lived.”

What I have come to realize is that faith is stronger than people's need for food. People would rather be hungry then give up what they believe in, even if it means dying. The Germans tried to prohibit the Jews from keeping their religion, but that didn’t stop them because it was too important to let go. I am a part of the last generation who will hear first hand accounts from Holocaust survivors. Now, it is my responsibility to continue on the Jewish legacy, “l'dor vador”, “from generation to generation.” I won’t ever forget how the Germans believed that “Jews will disappear because of hunger and need, and nothing will remain of the Jewish question but a cemetery” because I am living proof that the Germans didn’t accomplish their goal.

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