I Am From Holland's Holocaust

I am from the railway car into which I was forced,
from Gouda and and Edam,
where cheeses delight the palate of the world.

I am from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam,
with its rainy days
and shining, wet, cold cobblestones.

I am from the tulip garden,
the farms and fields,
trampled by war and occupation.

I am from the Sabbath day and star of David,
from the tribe of Judah to the scholarship of Umberto Cassuto,
who studied the holy books and interpreted the Torah.
I am from the house of Rodrigues, who left Portugal
to arrive in Holland, seeking freedom of worship
and freedom from fear. 

I am from Ernest,
who found himself in a Rotterdam prison cell,
yet freed by the Messiah he found there.
I am from Elisabeth,
who watched her parents' ashes ascend skyward to heaven,
leaving their daughter in the arms of a foster mother,
one who would raise her in the love of God's Grace.

I am from a two-faith tradition,
born out of the twelve tribes of Israel,
yet embracing the Savior
Israel chooses not to recognize.

I am from the words of the preacher
and the teacher,
speaking the language of love,
telling the tale of history.

I am born from Jersey streets, 
living in Maryland mountains,
from Baltimore's byways and
the Free State's highways.

I am from Gemini, the constellation of the twins,
born from the same mother at the same time as my brother,
on whom I stepped as I raced from her womb,
into the arms of twin sisters,
older and wiser than both of us.

I am from birthing rooms and changing tables,
from book bags and lunch lines.
I am reborn in the searing pain of separation,
I have walked through the valley of death,
emerging from a loneliness that drives a person
into the arms of God.

I am from the family photo album,
left behind in her haste,
yet still cherished in its idealism,
though antiquated, depicting previous lives.

I am reborn each and every day,
becoming, growing into a finer person.
Strengthened by scars,
tempered by time.

Note: The watermark on this page is of a painting done by
Rembrandt van Rijn, a Dutch painter, entitled "The Jewish Bride." This painting was displayed in the home of my parents for as long as I can remember. Even though they are no longer with us, the Jewish and Dutch heritage of my parents are two aspects of my cultural background of which I will always be proud.

 George Cassutto


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