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THE PROMISES

The Story of MICHAEL KUTZ

The forty passengers in the bus were excited, full of joy and laughter, their eyes fixed on the scenery flashing by their windows. Michael Kutz was one of the passengers. Everything he gazed upon, was part of Jewish history, and he was proud that at last he was in Israel.

Fifty years had passed since he'd promised his father he would go to Palestine, and he had finally arrived. It should have been only a happy time for him, but his pleasure at being in Israel and realizing the last dream of his parents was overshadowed because both had died during the war. His father had been killed fighting the Germans, his mother murdered by the Ukrainians. They were victims of a terrible war that had interrupted their productive lives and destroyed their wish to make aliyah to the Promised Land. He also lost a brother and two sisters to the same madmen who had murdered six million Jews.

Michael closed his eyes, trying to obliterate the memories, but he quickly opened them again. He had waited this long to come to Israel, and had made himself a promise to let his eyes be the sight for his dead family and let them see the glory that belonged to the Jews of the Diaspora. The bus entered the outskirts of Jerusalem, and excitement among the passengers mounted as the historical landmarks appeared.

Soon . . . Michael thought, soon he would see the Western Wall. For more than three thousand years, the Wall has stood as a monument to the everlasting strength of the Jewish people. It is revered as the holiest of places for Jews all over the world. From the time he decided to take this trip, he knew he had to come to the Wall, and say a prayer for his father and mother, his brother and his sisters. After the war, he had prayed for them, and hoped that in death they were able to find the peace that had eluded him.

He was fifty-nine and had devoted his adult life to bringing Yiddishkeit to Jewish children initially denied the opportunity to learn the marvels of their faith. His has been a good life, rich in the personal rewards of having accomplished a mitzvah. He regretted that his parents could not know how he had tried to fulfil his promises to his mother, but at least he was aware of his own deep commitment to Judaism, and from that he took his comfort.

The bus stopped at the top of the hill overlooking the Western Wall, and Michael saw hundreds of people praying. Soon it would be his turn. With seven hundred people on this Mission, they were told to wait until their bus number was called before proceeding to the Wall. The Israeli guide asked everyone to leave the bus and wait by the door. From where they stood at the top of the hill, the panoramic view was breathtaking, as all eyes feasted on the scene.

Suddenly, Michael felt two pairs of hands take both his arms, lifting him from the ground. He tried to free himself but he was suspended in their grip, being carried towards the Wall. "Stop!" he yelled to his friends. "It's not our turn."

"That's where you are wrong, Michael," one of them replied. "This is long overdue." Michael turned his head, and was amazed to see the more than seven hundred others following.

 

 

Michael Kutz:
"Of what purpose was there to forget. Who benefits more by the forgetting? When living with hate,what is beyond acceptability becomes acceptable. To perform the acts of brutal inhumanity done to the Jews was interpreted not as an act of atrocity by the fascists but as a service necessary for the cleansing of a race. Hate begets hate and wrong becomes right. To forget and forgive is not an answer. Remembering is. This way, the guilty are constantly reminded of their guilt."