Travis Gidado: “We will never forget this day”

foto Travis Gidado

from the left to right: Brandon Levin, Ada Zaslavskaya, Travis Gidado foto Travis Gidado

“Ada Zaslavskaya  was born in 1925, when Latvia’s hard-fought independence came alongside a crippling economic recession. She was only 15 when Latvia was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, quickly giving way to Nazi Germany. Before the end of Ada’s 16th year, 60,000 Jews were murdered in the ghettos and forests of Latvia. And at age 20, she was one of only 5,000 Jews left in the entire country.

We visited the Museum of Jews in Latvia, situated just above Riga’s local Jewish Community Center. There we stumbled into Ada, singing and dancing with her friends (and to think Brandon just wanted to know where the old theater was). We quickly discovered her command of English far surpassed that of her friends. We learned that she had a sister living in Washington. We found out she was an accomplished writer in her time, crafting plays and poetry in Russian. Before we left, she gave each of us a signed copy of her works. In mine, Ada wrote, “this book goes to a good man, for a good future.” She promised us the next time we saw her, her English would be perfect.

Brandon and I couldn’t be with our mothers yesterday – two of the greatest humans we’ve ever known – but here we were with Ada, 91 years young, a poet, survivor, teacher and great-grandmother.

The human heart is capable of endless love and boundless compassion. And if we exercise this capacity, we can withstand evil…we can defeat death.

So thank you, Ada. We will never forget this day, and we will never forget you. Your story will live on through us”. (Travis Gidado, Florida)

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