Walk into one of the pastel colored ice cream stores on the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall in Jerusalem and you may be greeted by a young woman who is very different from the laconic teenager you would expect to serve you a tasty treat. In fact, the dissonance is jarring. For on the pretty smooth-skinned arm extending the soothing delight in your choice of flavors, is tattooed a number.
A number beginning with the letter A. A number throwing the observer abruptly into the hell that was Auschwitz. A number that hurtles you from the sunny streets of vibrant Jerusalem into the frozen death-land of Poland. A number that cuts you down from the pose of a confident member of a true democracy into a reality of supreme domination by inhumanity. A number that strips away the protection granting your right to live by the band of Jewish brothers called the Israel Defense Forces. A number that hurls you back in time to a seemingly everlasting stage in our history when there was no State of Israel. A number signifying the greatest physical threat to the Jewish people. A number which causes supreme existential angst – then and now.