By Heidi Fisher
“Don’t ever let anyone take away your smile… your laughter… your idea that tomorrow will be better. If you do, they take away your spirit and they’ve won.”
This is just one of the many quotes that have completely inspired how I live my life. It’s not from a famous poet, songwriter or playwright. The lessons that have steered my moral compass, my attitude, my role as a wife and a mom are from a survivor of Nazi Concentration camps, a teacher (no formal degree, but he taught hundreds of students), a loving husband, a very proud Opa (grandfather), and my remarkable Dad.
I am the child of a Holocaust survivor.
Growing up, there was an unwritten rule in our home. “NEVER ask your dad about his Holocaust experience.” I believe that was meant for his well-being, as well as ours.
And although our home was filled with love, music and laughter … quietly, unknowingly, we all lived the painful effects of Nazi Germany. As our incredibly strong dad tried to hide his pain, somehow… maybe instinctively, as a child I knew there was suffering.
Now, as an adult child of a Holocaust Survivor, I still struggle with mixed emotions. I’m certainly thankful for the beautiful gifts of compassion and incredible inner strength my parents instilled in me, yet I feel a deep sadness and a certain responsibility due to the unthinkable hardships my dear dad, my grandparents, aunt and uncle had to endure.
Children of survivors can face unique challenges because of the trauma our parents experienced. Whether you are caring for an elderly parent or lost your parent long ago, it can be helpful to understand how the trauma of the Holocaust may have affected them throughout their lives, especially as they aged. And what affects them, affects you.
My dad’s mantra was, “Never forget, always move forward.” I choose to live life the way he did, with a happy and loving twinkle in his eye. But, every person affected by the Holocaust, whether directly or indirectly, handles it differently. And that’s okay.
Jewish Community Services is sensitive to the needs of Holocaust Survivors and their families. We invite Children of Holocaust Survivors* to join us for a special program on Wednesday, September 13 from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Edward A. Myerberg Center. It’s an opportunity for conversations about the impact of our parents’ past on our lives and the importance of recognizing and caring for our own needs.
For more information and to register, click here.
*This program is made possible by a grant from the JFNA Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care.
Heidi Fisher is the Communications Specialist for JCS Marketing.
JCS provides multiple services and supports to Holocaust Survivors and their families in the Baltimore community. To learn more, please visit jcsbaltimore.org/holocaust or call 410-466-9200.