OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home
AUGUST 8, 2019 | The Jewish Home OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home
The Power of the Written Word Reflections on a visit to the Anne Frank House By Leah R. Lightman
t was the infamous bookcase to the Secret Annex that got me. On a recent trip to Amster-
dam, my husband and I visited the Anne Frank House. We had been at the Jewish Historical Museum בס״ד
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and the Portuguese Synagogue and then sprinted across a filled-withlife Amsterdam, arriving at the appointed time to queue with others who held tickets for the same time slot. Things are so well organized that there was almost no wait. Visiting the Anne Frank House was a lifelong dream for me. Most likely, I was 11 or 12 years old when I read her diary. Growing up in suburbia as a second generation American whose family came to this country in the early 20th century, I had no “firsthand” connections to the Holocaust. I remember asking myself and my parents, “How could this happen?” Actually, I was more focused on wondering how people survived. In addition to The Diary of Anne Frank, I consumed Mila 18, QB VII, Night, and other such genre. Several teachers at the Maimonides School in Boston, which my brothers and I attended, barely escaped to these shores where they recreated themselves. They spoke about life prior to 1939. Very little was said about the war years. Anne Frank’s diary gripped me. Precocious, full of life, brimming with energy, she and seven others were confined to three rooms and a life of silence during work hours so people working in the building
would not hear them. Once a week, she bathed herself in some kind of tin container. Forget ever being outdoors, day or night. There was the constant fear of being discovered despite the blackout curtains. Eight people lived together, fought, made up, spoke quietly, and yearned for freedom and life. Anne Frank was gutsy, outspoken and curious with a joie de vivre. My gut feeling is she was wired this way and remained so, despite the circumstances. Now that I am a mother and a grandmother and settled into my “middle years,” I appreciate the uniqueness of the individual personality, growth and the not-always-so-straight road to forming identity. Her diary makes you wonder what could have been her life had not the Nazis cast their giant dark shadow and life-choking grip. Stepping past the bookcase on hinges – the very artifact that helped to hide the Frank family and others – and into the annex, I realized that we were walking in the footsteps of others who walked the very same steps and had been filled with fear and hope. Fear is obvious: would they live? Hope is obvious: they hoped to live. Our lives today are thankfully not so blackand-white, so stark, so on the edge.
Five Towns Jewish Home - 8-8-19