When Kailyn, one of our Bat Mitzvah students, told me the theme was butterflies, I was so excited! “You can give all the guests milkweed seed packets,“ I told her!“ The plants help the monarch butterflies from going extinct!”
I didn’t make the connection of the butterflies to Eva though, until the Friday eve dinner. Eva was a child with whom Kailyn was not only sharing her Bat Mitzvah, but she was also making a commitment to always remember her.
You see, Eva never had a chance to come of age. She perished during the Holocaust in Auschwitz at the age of eight.
As we all sat around the table talking of Kailyn’s absolute love and obsession with butterflies and of Eva, Rabbi David added that butterflies have become the symbol of the Holocaust." It represents freedom,” he told the family. “It became a a symbol due to the famous poem, 'I Never Saw Another Butterfly,' written by Pavel Friedman, a young Czech poet while in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp.
The Butterfly (English translation)
The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing
against a white stone. . . .
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly 'way up high.
It went away I'm sure because it wished to
kiss the world good-bye.
For seven weeks I've lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto.
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live in here,
in the ghetto.
The day of the service, butterflies were everywhere. On Kailyn’s dress, her jewelry, the challah cover, her tallit, the decorations.
As Eva's spirit entered the room, we were all so heart touched by her presence! I silently told her to please bring the butterflies to all the children who had died with her.
The next morning I decided to write about this experience and began thinking about what I would write. As I walked outside there was a monarch butterfly on the grass. “Is it hurt?” I asked Rabbi David.
As we looked closer we could see two butterflies were there. He gently scooped his hand underneath them so they could fly. They did so for a few seconds but then came back to the grass. And so we watched for them for awhile.
Rabbi David again scooped his hand underneath them and this time they flew off with one butterfly holding the other. As they continued to fly I said, “It wasn’t the last butterfly. The children can see butterflies again.”
Later on I learned that the two butterflies were mating. But I knew why they really came. And I could feel Eva smiling….
Here is the brochure Kailyn designed about Eva:
Here is Kailyn:
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