Hundreds of South Florida Jews gathering overseas to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day. Now, on the 75th anniversary, they are remembering the lessons of a painful past.
Several people from the Greater Jewish Federation were in Israel, Thursday night.
For them, there are two sides of a very inescapable coin: the progress the nation has made and the dark history the Jewish people had to endure.
A young nation that was founded in the 20th century, Israel is now 75 years old.
“It’s almost intrinsic in our blood to come here, and to be here, to be present,” said Barbara Black Goldfarb, of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
It’s a mission for the more than 800 visitors with the Greater Miami Jewish Federation in Jerusalem this week, but even in the joy of the anniversary, the Jewish people are rarely a loved one away.
A great-grandfather, a mother, a father, from the systematic murder of millions of their people a little more than two generations ago.
“At a Jewish wedding, we break a glass. It’s tradition’s way of telling us that even in times of great joy, we have to remember sadness,” said Jacob Solomon, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
“My father was in a town called Ilya,” Gila Fogelman Unger said. “He actually witnessed how the Nazis shot many of the Jews from their town, and then after two or three days after, it was quiet, he ran into the woods, just described himself as living less than an animal. He ate tree bark, doing whatever he needed to do to survive.”
“My great grandfather was shot because he hid,” Jessica Mishaan Abbo said.
South Florida visitors told their stories at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, surrounded by swastikas, the books set aside to be burned and the endless faces of those who would not survive.
The Holocaust, longtime conflicts with the Palestinians, and internal strife are just under the surface of the happiness of the Miami visitors, who are there to mark a milestone.
“Yeah, we’re going through a tough time right now, but let’s not forget the miracle that is the modern state of Israel,” Solomon said.
So many people at the museum told 7News that their has been so much progress, but they feel that antisemitism is on the rise.
They don’t know why, but they have a sinking feeling that several people told 7News that it’s simply not going to get any better.