This week, as the old year 2014 comes to an end and we welcome the New Year 2015, I am of two minds. On one hand, as I reflect on this past year, I am filled with gratitude for all of life’s blessings: my mother who is 91 and whose mind is sharp and clear, each member of my family who holds a special place in my heart, good friends, good times, good health, and the publication of Food, Family and Tradition: Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Remembrances—the culmination of more than three years’ work.
On the other hand, I am filled with dismay as I remember that 70 years ago, in March 1944, the Nazis invaded Hungary and began their program to “clean Hungary of the Jews,” to make Hungary Judenrein.
At that time my father was a teenager from Czechoslovakia, working in Budapest. He was frightened when he saw the Nazis march into Budapest, so he, along with three friends, quickly went to a train station to try to make their way home to what had been Czechoslovakia. Two of his friends were captured by Nazis—and killed. My father made it home to Hluboka, only to be taken with his family, on the last day of Passover, to the ghetto and, six weeks later to Auschwitz, arriving on the night of the holiday of Shavuot.
My mother had been at home with her family in Vásárosnámeny, Hungary, and was so anxious in the spring of 1944 that she could not sleep from worry. Although her family tried to escape immediately after Passover, they were captured and taken, along with all the other Jews in Vásárosnámeny, to the ghetto. Six weeks later they were taken to Auschwitz, where almost all of her family members were murdered in the gas chambers.
In April 1945, the War ended. My mother was liberated and eventually, found her way with her one surviving brother to Freising, Germany. My father survived the Death March from Buchenwald, which ended, for him in Freising. Slowly they both began the painful process of rebuilding their lives and beginning life anew.
Seventy years later there are four generations of new life growing and blossoming, some living in the States where my parents made their home, and some living in our homeland, Israel. Likewise, there are generations born of all those who survived the Holocaust.
Through the recipes and stories of my parents, Food, Family and Tradition reflects on and remembers the culture and history of the Jews in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, prior to, during and after the Holocaust.
As we welcome the New Year 2015, seventy years after the liberation of the Jews from the still inconceivable misery and horror of the Death and Concentration Camps, we can never forget the past, but we must look to the future. And we must welcome it with courage and hope. Anything less would dishonor the courage and resilience of all Survivors.