And of course I read Elie Wiesel's "Night" which messed me up for weeks after.
I admit that, out of respect for my mental health, I have never seen the film "Schindler's List". Sorry, but I saw the trailer and knew that I would not be able to watch the film all the way through, either because the violence would be too intense or because it would bring up memories of childhood experiences at the hands of anti-Semitic bullies. Whatever.
The thing is, the Holocaust happened.
And it was so unbelievable, so incomprehensibly horrible in scope and execution, that today we still spell it with a capital H and put an article before it.
Eleven million people -- yeah, wrap your head around that for a minute -- were systematically murdered by the Nazis.
Six million of them were killed simply for being Jewish.
And while I can't agree with the re-packaging of this terrible chapter as a way of selling all sorts of pro-Israel (or even pro-Jewish) attitudes today, the fact remains that this happened. It has a profound bearing on my life today as a Jew, and as a human being.
And it's not going anywhere, not anytime soon, and hopefully not ever. Even after the last survivors have died, the memory -- the reality -- of the Holocaust remains. How we will put it into a new perspective will likely be decided by future generations after I'm gone. But it needs to remain in our consciousness as a real thing that happened -- and which must not be allowed to happen again.
And that is why, every year, Jews around the world gather together to remember those who perished, to ponder the lessons of history, and to commit ourselves anew to building this world with love so that our children and grandchildren may one day know lasting peace.