Leon Leyson is the youngest person on Schindler's List. It took an American movie maker to encourage him to open up his story, but now Mr Leyson is gently and insistantly telling his life.
My friend Margie McCoy, who works for the Dean of the School of Education at Chapman University in Orange, Ca. invited me to hear Mr.Leyson as a part of the school's Welcome Week. Chapman has an active and flourishing Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education.
I was able to meet Mr. Leyson and the kind individuals who work on campus for the Center and it's Library.
When Mr Leyson took up the podium he spoke with the universal humility and truth of all survivors. He explained his method of witness: no prepared notes with only an intent to open to us as he "let the events roll out from behind his eye, coming as he remembered them".
It was a moment.
He took us there with him and he shielded us from the horror as he once again re-lived the memories, occasionally pausing to feel the tip of grief. He would breath and then proceed. He shared the irony of being forced to the back of the bus in pre-ghetto Germany and then forced to the front of the bus in the pre-civil rights South. He spoke of his respect for Schindler and his still child-like amazement of the rescuer's attentive capacity.
I think his silence all these years prior comes from thinking, along with many other valid reasons, it could never happen again. But now we see that it might not for Jews, but it is for countless other people groups. We all must listen in order to be watchful.
"violence will not be heard again in your land"... Is 60:18
Our work is cut out for us.