Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thanks to Google, I Remember Their Names.

These are some of my relatives, on my father's side, who were murdered in the Holocaust.

Thanks to several visual and content databases created in partnership between Google and Yad Vashem, I finally learned what names were. After an entire life of not knowing, because it was considered something we should not talk about - should move on from.

The photo database was announced on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

My father's family was from Romania. They were (are) Hasidim. A sect called "Satmar." They keep to themselves, mostly, and are very religious.

I still don't know much about why they do the things they do. I just know that they were nice to me when I spent time with them.

I would like to know more.

Due to Google's efforts, there is a YouTube channel dedicated to testimonials as well as a searchable photo archive online.

I couldn't find them there, they were listed in a database on Yad Vashem's site.

Sometimes I hear the anti-Semitic accusation that Jewish people "relive" the Holocaust over and over again, "beat it to death," as a sort of political trump card.

The truth, in my experience, is that the victims don't like to talk about it.

I for one wish that my grandparents, when they were still alive, had told me more. Or that I had a list or a photo album.

Sadly, sometimes when you go through a painful experience, you have to name it and talk about it even though it hurts you, so that you can help others who have suffered or prevent something similar from happening again.

I am grateful at least to know some of their names.

And yes, I am grateful that there are brands. Because without names I know and trust, I wouldn't have found my family. Google provides searchability. Yad Vashem preserves what happened. And The New York Times reports accurately, timely, and in a way that I appreciate.