Jews across the Washington area marked Yom Hashoah last Sunday with commemorative ceremonies in Maryland and Virginia held by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. At both events, attendees viewed art and artifacts depicting the Holocaust, heard from survivors and took part in discussions about refugees.
At Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Julia Bindeman Suburban Center in Potomac, Rockville resident Marsha Tishler told 400 participants how she and her family fled Nazi-occupied Poland in 1945 when she was 3. The lived in displaced persons camps in Austria that Tishler described as “overcrowded, dismal and dank.”
Even after “life took on a sense of normalcy,” Tischler’s parents remained scarred by their ordeal.
“My mother sometimes chased after trams on the streets, certain she had spotted the blond hair of her niece … only to have the face of a stranger turn to her,” she said. “My father thrashed around in his sleep. He was always running from those shooting at him in the dark. Even though we were safe in Italy and later in America, whenever he saw a dense set of trees or bushes he’d say, ‘That’s a good place to hide.’ He was always hiding.”
The refugee’s journey is no easier today, Crannough Jones told the audience. Jones, who escaped the Liberian civil war in 1990, suggested that there is a sad similarity to refugees’ stories.
“There’s a reason they say don’t forget,” she said. Even though we’re repeating these stories, I feel like we’re still forgetting. It’s still happening. Why, I don’t have the answer. In a few years there will be a Syrian kid telling a similar story to ours. The story has been told over and over, but I don’t know why.”