Dear Friends and Followers of the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre,
This past weekend we entered the Jewish New Year 5781 – but, alas, this year's Rosh Hashanah was very different from all the previous traditional New Year celebrations, which are typically marked by festive gatherings of family, friends and communities. I am taking this opportunity, during this challenging period, to write you a few words from Switzerland and send you my heartfelt wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful year.
Only 18 months have passed since I had the privilege to meet you and talk to you in in Hong Kong and Macao. This journey to a far away continent and the challenge to tell thousands of students of all ages the story of my childhood as a Holocaust survivor is something I had never done before – it was an unforgettable experience.
I loved visiting local schools, colleges and Universities and seeing and feeling how the students I met already had some knowledge of World War II history. The students were ready to listen to a witness and ask relevant, intelligent questions. What touched me most was their genuine interest and empathy for a survivor's life and reflections. I often look at the photos we took together and see those lovely faces and intelligent eyes attentively watching this stranger who told them her story. If the people I met remember some details, some events - that in the most life threatening situations there are sometimes people ready to help others in danger, driven by nothing else than a moral imperative – then my trip was worth its while.
Since my visit to Hong Kong and Macau in January, 2019 the world has become a different place. Before we were so sure of ourselves, of our achievements in many areas of life. Now a virus has spread all over the world, and we realize how fragile we are – there is no escape, only the hope that it will be eradicated soon and I pray that all of you, dear friends, are in good health.
I am thinking of those students who have in the meantime graduated and are in the middle of "real life" as opposed to a protected student's life. This must be a particularly difficult period for them, so different from what they had expected. Let's hope that they will be able to fulfill their dreams, professional and private.
Let me wish you again a Happy New Year, Shana Tova Umetuka, and thank you for your important efforts to try to make this a better world.
With warmest regards and appreciation for your friendship,