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On Wednesday the newly rebuilt and refurbished Holocaust Museum in Elsternwick opened its doors. It is an extraordinary building, stunning in its simplicity and remarkable in the light and air it brings into the dark history it commemorates. It’s a place of memory and history, but also one of meaning and legacy – now more than ever we need to affirm its message for humanity. Now, when the world is faltering and moral clarity and courage are in short supply, we need to be sure to find the strength and hope that feed and nourish the human spirit. And not to despair, for despair only saps us. Remember the words of Nelson Mandela: it always seems impossible until it’s done.

This is a poem and a blessing I wrote for the occasion: Please click here to watch the video

We remember the darkness

Today we remember the darkness.

Today we reach back into the long black nights

(Ha Laylot Halalu Koolo Choshech)

No light in this cattle carriage mamma

No light in this barren barrack papa.

Oh my people – you who filled this planet with so much colour and light –

You’ve seen

Too many a dark night

(Vechoshech Al pnei te hom ).

Skewered by crucifixes

Carved by cutting crescents

Burnt by heils and heps

Trampled by jackboots

And just yesterday – 

Ploughed by unholy Allah Akhbars.

Today in this loving light place of shade

Today we remember not to forget

And today we remember to forget.

Not to forget the casual calloused heart of humankind

But to forget those who would carelessly incinerate our fiery bushes.

Don’t they know the more you burn us the more you ignite us?

That we may be wounded, our flesh charred

But our spirit burns ,oh how it burns.

Oh my Lord

Tattie daddy abba Avinu

Don’t forsake me

(al taazveinu)

just hold me for a little longer.

Hold me like you hold the stars

Name me like you name the stars

Let the new sparks grow out of the black earth, out of the charred ovens.

Today we will climb the beams of light

Even as dark rockets pound the fields of Zion

Even as serpentine shadows surround our serene suburbs

We will declare Eden in Elsternwick

We are here to stay and ride our wild lions of Judah into the future

To join the ancient dreamers of this crusty continent.

We the people of the dream – hayinu kecholmim

We the dream people meet here the people of the dreamland

We will not cease our dreaming …

And a prayer:

Mizmor Shir Chanukat HaBayit

A prayer for this house of memory –

May your doors bring in minds that will learn and grow

Hearts that will feel and expand

Souls that will nurture and soar.

May your gates burst open and spill your stories of courage and compassion into the streets

Spread your tales of dignity and

the lovely colours of our differences

Your conviction that remembrance brings redemption

humanity heals a wounded spirit

And generosity grows in the broken bones

That hatred only hurts and festers

That love is stronger than death

That light lingers and gently insinuates itself into the shadows and shrouds.

In this house of memories we will let the light in

From this house of memory we will let the light flow out.

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