Doris Wise Montrose, President, Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
I was the first child born to my parents who had met in a displaced persons camp in Germany just after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. They sought to rebuild their lives after the horrors they witnessed, marrying and moving to Toronto, Canada. I was fortunate – my parents felt so grateful and blessed to have survived, that our home was not darkened by loss but lightened by celebrations of a life cherished.
I grew up living as a Jew in unprecedented equality and comfort. While I knew that my parents’ generation had been helpless in the face of destruction, I grew up taking my own safety for granted, never giving it a second thought. Unlike any other generation of Jews for the last three thousand years, I lived in a world where the Jewish state of Israel exists – not as a dream, but as a vibrant national reality, with a strong military to defend and protect Jewish lives.
We in the post-Holocaust generations need to fully realize that if Israel had existed at the time, there would not have been a Holocaust. We need to understand too that we are not safe because we’re so special – we are special because we are safe. And it is only Israel that can be counted on to keep us safe. It is Israel – and only Israel – that can be counted on to prevent another “Final Solution” from becoming truly final. This is too great a blessing to take for granted.
In 2006, I created Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors (CJHS) within three days of Gilad Shalit’s abduction and imprisonment by Hamas terrorists. I founded the organization in a massive campaign to spread awareness about Gilad Shalit and the two other young Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were captured. This work brought into my life a few very special people who gave me direction, purpose and their friendship. We became soulmates, spreading a message that was to a large and frightening extent, unknown.
Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors soon began to host a monthly program of guest speakers in my living room. Before long, we outgrew that space, and with the generosity of the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel in Los Angeles, we were able to expand. In the seven years now that we have been hosting speakers, presentations and events, our audience has grown steadily into a formidable, knowledgeable activist community with a strong will to survive. It has been my aim, through Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, to educate the public that, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said,
“It is so much easier to talk about the lessons learned from the past than to implement them into the present and the future. But we, the Jewish people, cannot ignore the lessons learned from the Holocaust, as they apply to the present day.” For me, this work fulfills the moral imperative to protect the Jewish people from ever being helpless again. It is the best way I have found to honor my parents and all the survivors, as well as the millions of victims who perished.