Sr. Anne-Catherine AVRIL, nds.
On 12 December 1940, a boat loaded with Bulgarian refugees who fled their country under the threat of Nazism, was headed for Israel. This boat was called ‘El Salvador’. It was wrecked off Turkey with 352 passengers, 108 were able to join the shore or rather were rejected by the waves on the shore. Our sister Regine was in this boat with her family. His mother and brother perished. She and her father were amongst the survivors.
Every year, on 12 December, a commemoration in memory of the victims takes place at Mount Herzl. We were there yesterday, Régine and I. It was simple, moving. Songs by a Bulgarian choir, including one composed for this occasion. Speeches by Bulgarian diplomats, poets, members of various associations touching the Bulgarian community in Israel. A touch of humor mixed with emotion.
Wreaths of flowers were carried before the wall on which are inscribed the names of the dead. Regine and another person were the only two witnesses to the shipwreck. Both were invited to lay one of the crowns. One of the speakers suggested that those present, most of whom were elderly, should bring members of the following generations next year so that memory could be conveyed. I heard this for Zion. Perhaps one or the other sister or brother of Sion, among the youngest, could accompany Regine to Mount Herzel on 12 December 2017?
The Bal Shem Tov, the father of Hasidism, said: “Forgetting leads to exile, remembering is the secret of redemption.”
Pictures: Sr. Regine and Sr. Anne-Catherine, NDS.