“It was a day, just like today.” Fifty years later in May of 1995 Rabbi Berkowits had the chance to visit the headquarters of the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg, North Carolina to present a plaque commemorating the liberation and to tell the men of the 82nd Airborne Division of 1995 what it was like to wake up that morning 50 years earlier hungry, stinky, filled with lice and worse and with no-hope and seeing these “angels” coming into the Camp.
Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) was Monday, April 24th, 2017 and May 2nd 2017 is just a week away. So there are some Dances that never end, and this is one of them -- The Actual Dance of the Holocaust. On this the 72nd Anniversary of his liberation, it so happens that Rabbi Berkowits shared with me a video of his presentation of that memorial plaque in 1995.
You can watch it, but first a few notes and cautions about the video. First, there are some very explicit scenes of the liberation that might not be suitable for young people. Second, the quality is mixed in part because this has been converted from a DVD. Third, note that it does not start for about 15 second and that the first 4 minutes are excerpted from the longer (about 30 minutes) full report. There is much to be learned from watching and I highly encourage you to continue to the end for there is an amazing and surprising scene of the paratroopers singing.
In the video the vision of the 82nd Airborne paratroopers jumping from planes in Germany is described by Rabbi Berkowits as “Angels coming down.” Hence the title to this blog. He also refers to his image of them as he saw them enter the gates of what had in fact been hell. I leave that to you to hear when you watch. Click here.
And so: “There is a Dance. A Dance that one day each and everyone of us will dance.” What this video and the life of Rabbi Larry Berkowits show us is that out of our worst fears can come life, love and dignity. Rabbi Berkowits continues to thrive and I look forward to celebrating his 90th Birthday with him in February 2018.
Speaking of his birthday, you may also want to learn more about Rabbi Berowits and I recommend his book The Boy Who Lost His Birthday