I Give Thanks

Excerpt from And You Shall Tell Your Children by Ida Akerman:

I GIVE THANKS

I’m no longer in the camp

delivered up to the wicked

and cohabiting

with all and sundry.

I’m no longer shut away

separated from my father,

sleeping on straw

In the midst of a shambles.

I’m no longer down there

in the huts in winter

with rats and lice

running hither and thither,

floundering in the mud

and tearing my little summer dress

trying to cross

the barbed-wire barrier.

I no longer have

to go walking on the jetty

in the cold and wind

with the waves of the sea

splashing against me

and drenching my light canvas shoes.

I’m no longer dying of hunger

running after scraps of bread

or have holes in the ground

for performing my elementary needs.

I no longer read suffering

anxiety and despair

on the faces of all these people

reduced to helpless misery.

I run in freedom

to our little neighbourhood garden

where, sitting on a bench,

I watch my little grandson

at play.

Then I return to my home

in the midst of my garden in Zion,

so laden with blessings …

Clean, bright, shady,

pretty,

with all the marvelous comforts

one could desire,

– My home so quiet

yet connected with others –

with clothes, shoes,

good food,

books, friends,

the necessary

and the superfluous;

Shabbatot and holidays,

classes in abundance,

my children and grandchildren

not far away,

worthy and respected,

serving my people and God,

happy in my land …

All that is generally

taken for granted

or which one prays for

when one is wretched

but which to me seems so miraculous

and the gift

of Heaven’s bounty

alone.

For one has to have been

in that absolute exile

and to have experienced all that evil

in order to appreciate the good fortune

of deliverance

and continually to say “Thanks,”

“And I beg You

spare our little ones

these horrors.

May they be happy

in their place

and work

to bring it justice, joy and peace

according to Your plan,

O Holy One, Blessed Be He.”

30th June 2004

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