Category Archives: Judaism

RFK Jr., Anne Frank, and the More Than Inappropriate use of Holocaust Analogy

For the last few decades, Holocaust education has become a normal part of our overall academic and cultural education. Which is sadly, still needed in 2022. The problem is that some think they can twist the facts and the history to fit their needs.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. It should be a day of quiet contemplation and reverence. Instead, it has become another fight to preserve the memories of those murdered. Earlier this week, Kennedy family scion Robert F. Kennedy Jr. apologized for his remarks made at a recent anti-vaxxer rally.

“Even in Hitler’s Germany you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did,” Kennedy told a crowd of 20,000-30,000. “Today the mechanisms are being put in place to make it so that none of us can run and none of us can hide.”

What he and others who use this terminology conveniently forget is that they have choices that European Jews were denied. Anne Frank and the other inhabitants of the Annex did not go into hiding for shits and giggles. Anyone with half a brain and any basic knowledge of the period knows that the dehumanization, persecution, and murder of six million Jews was systematic and methodical. Their options were at best limited, and at worst, non-existent.

If someone chooses not to vaccinate themselves or their children against Covid-19 or any other virus, that is their decision. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have yet to see police or soldiers banging down doors, demanding to see vaccine cards.

The kicker is that his wife, actress Cheryl Hines, condemned his statement. If nothing else, that speaks volumes.

His analogy is more than inappropriate, it is insensitive. He may have apologized, but apologies mean nothing unless there are actions behind those words.

May the memories of the millions who were killed (including my own relations) forever be a blessing. Z”l.

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The UN and the Israeli Double Standard: Dara Horn Was Right

Last year, author Dara Horn put for a troubling theory in her history/nonfiction book, People Love Dead Jews: Reports From a Haunted Past. Her hypothesis was the non-Jewish world speaks fondly and mournfully of Jews who are no longer among the living. But when it comes to those of us who are alive and kicking, that’s another story entirely.

Last week, the United Nations ratified a resolution denouncing Holocaust denial. Don’t get me wrong, this is super important, given that antisemitism is back at a rate that has not been seen for decades. But while this is happening, they continue with their usual double standard of targeting Israel more than any other nation.

The UN’s charter states the following:

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

Clearly, they have failed at their mission.

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People of the POD: Diversity is Possible

These days, there is a lot of talk about diversity and learning to get along. But talk is cheap. We have to walk the walk if we want our actions to match our words.

In the wake of the hostages that were taken at the synagogue in Texas a couple of weeks ago, it would have been easy to turn to anger and despair. It is a sad fact that after 5000 years, Jews are still dealing with antisemitism and the lies that come from it.

But there is still a little bit of light in the darkness. On the 18th, the People of the Pod podcast released a special episode relating to the events of the 15th. As the news unfolded, local Jewish, Muslim, and Christian clergy waited at a nearby church, hoping and praying that the hostages would come out alive.

Listening to the interviews, I could see the light in the darkness. There are good people in this world. If only there was enough to stop hate in its tracks.

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My Survival: A Girl on Schindler’s List: A Girl on Schindler’s List Book Review

We all know that The Holocaust happened. Six million Jews and millions of others were persecuted, tortured, and murdered simply because of who they were. Yet, there are still some who claim that it is a myth or that the numbers of victims are not what they claim to be. The only way to counter these lies is via the fact and the first-hand accounts of survivors, whose numbers are dwindling as time goes on.

My Survival: A Girl on Schindler’s List: A Girl on Schindler’s List, by Rena Finder and Joshua M. Greene, was published in 2019. Mrs. Finder had a normal childhood until the age of 11, when she, along with her family and all other Jewish families in the area, were confined to the Krakow ghetto. After they were forced out of the ghetto, they were put on trains to Auschwitz. It looked like all was lost, until an unlikely savior came along. Oskar Schindler was a businessman who was known for crossing moral lines that others would never even consider getting close to. But he was also responsible for saving the lives of Rena, her mother, and many others. In total, over 1000 people were alive at the end of World War II due to his efforts.

I really enjoyed this book. It is age-appropriate for young readers while telling Mrs. Finder’s story in heartbreaking detail. In speaking directly to the audience from one child to another, the narrative hits home how important it is that we respect another’s differences, even we disagree with them. Only then, will the souls of the millions who were murdered be at peace and we will have finally learned from the past.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Enough With the Antisemitic Bullshit: Updates From The Hostages Held up at the Texas Synagogue

When my immigrant ancestors came to this country more than a century ago, they came for the freedoms and opportunities that did not exist in the places of their birth. They were also escaping from the antisemitism that at best limited their chances for a productive life and at worst, killed them for absolutely nothing. I imagine that they hoped that in emigrating, their descendants would be accepted for who they were and not hated/discriminated against for their religious beliefs.

It breaks my heart that this hope still lingers in the distance.

Earlier today, hostages were taken at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. The purpose of this heinous act was to get the attention of the authorities and force them to release Aafia Siddiqu. Siddique is serving a nearly 100-year sentence for attempting to kill Americans overseas.

I am so f*cking tired of this antisemitic bullshit. I’m tired of being forced to choose between being accepted by the wider non-Jewish world and being true to the faith I was raised in. For once, I would like to wake up and know that no one gives a shit about who I pray or don’t pray to. But we live in a world in which hate, prejudice, and fear still have a firm foothold on our reality.

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Emma Watson is Wrong About Israel

As a proud Jewish person, I get tired of the antisemitic, anti-Israel bullshit. For once, I wish we would just get over it and move on with their lives. As I see it, it takes way too much physical and emotional energy to hate another person simply because of who they are. Why not just live and let live?

Recently, Harry Potter and Beauty and the Beast star Emma Watson made a rather controversial post on her Instagram account.

Outside of her work as a performer, Watson is known as a feminist and a humanitarian. The fact that she is committed to both causes is nothing to sneeze at. But they are undermined when Israel is marginalized and demonized due to either purposeful lies or ignorance. Watson seems to be an intelligent and educated woman with a dedication to creating a better world. The problem is that she, like many people either ignore the facts or doesn’t bother to do their research before professing support of a terrorist organization. The issue grows tenfold when someone who has a platform as she does spreads lies.

I have nothing against those of Palestinian origin. My problem is when a government uses their resources not to build up their country, but to destroy another and convince the people that the neighbor is to blame. One of the podcasts I regularly listen to, Israel Story, had a recent episode about the Sbarro suicide bombing that occurred in the summer of 2001. Instead of just interviewing the surviving victims and their family members, they also interviewed the family of the person responsible for the attack. While I find it heartening and revealing is that the brother of the bomber partially places the blame on his government, not on Israel (start at 1:12:39).

Is she antisemite? I don’t know, I’ve never had the opportunity to meet her in person. But I do know that Israel is the only nation in that region in which women are fully enfranchised. The Tel Aviv Pride parade is one of the biggest gay pride parades in the world. It is a full-fledged democracy in which all citizens, regardless of any societal labels, have the same rights and responsibilities.

I don’t want to tell her to shut up and look at her next script. But I do want to give her a history book and recommend that she do a little reading before making her next broad and misleading statement.

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The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather was a War Criminal Book Review

We all grow up with tales of the family members who have come before us. The question is, what is fact and what is fiction?

Journalist Silvia Foti grew up with the story that her maternal grandfather, Jonas Noreika, gave his life for his native Lithuania, fighting against the Communists. As her mother breathed her last, Silvia promised that she would write the long-awaited book about Jonas. Her initial research matched her expectations: a martyred war hero whose name and reputation earned him a place of honor. What Silvia did not expect was that he was a member of the Nazi party and ordered the deaths of thousands of his Jewish neighbors.

Her journey is chronicled in The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather was a War Criminal, which was published last March.

This is a memoir to savor. Foti brings in both her journalist experience and the want of a granddaughter to find out the truth about the man who partially contributed to her DNA. With the ever-present shadow of antisemitism and the sadly still too present Holocaust denial, this book is the light in the darkness. I wish there were more people like Silvia Foti. By both bringing Jonas’s actions into the spotlight, she is opening the door to making sure that the victims are remembered and there will never be any chance of claiming that the Holocaust never happened.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Jewish Pride: Rebuilding a People Book Review

Throughout human history, Jews have been at best tolerated, and a worst forced to convert or submit to the sword. But even with all of that pressure, we have not only survived, but thrived.

Jewish Pride: Rebuilding a People, by Ben M. Freeman, was published at the beginning of the year. Influenced by coming out and living as a gay man, Freeman examines both Jewish history and contemporary Jewish culture. He talks about antisemitism, the image of Judaism that is imposed on us, and the choice we have to either remain true to ourselves or change to be accepted by the non-Jewish world.

I truly enjoyed this book. It is both a middle finger to those who hate us and a challenge. To the Jewish reader, Freeman is asking us if the cost of assimilation is worth it. To the non-Jewish reader, he is not asking for friendship and acceptance, he is asking them to examine their own prejudices and ideas about our faith and those who practice it.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Flashback Friday: Defiance (2008)

During World War II, it is easy to assume that the millions of people whom the Nazis murdered went quietly to their deaths. While some may have just gone along with the occupiers, hoping they would survive, others took their lives and fates into their own hands.

The 2008 movie, Defiance, is the story of the Bielski Partisans. When their parents and youngest brother, along with the other Jewish residents of Novogrudok are rounded up and massacred, the surviving Bielski brothers know that the only option is to hide. Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber), Asael (Jamie Bell), and Aron (George McKay) flee into the forest. What starts out as a small group of partisans grows into thousands, many of whom are unable to fight. Knowing that they could be found at any moment, the only option they have is to fight for their surivival.

I loved this film. I was glued to the screen. My heart did not stop pounding until the end credits rolled. By the end of the movie, I was both heartbroken and cheering. My heart broke for those who were killed just for being who they were. I was cheering for those who stood up for themselves and lived, knowing that the inspiration they created will last for generations.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Three Ordinary Girls: The Remarkable Story of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Became Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assassins–and WWII Heroes Book Review

When fighting an invading army, there are two ways to go about it. The first is to join the government-created and regulated military. The second is to become a member of the underground resistance and fight using whatever methods you have at your disposal.

Three Ordinary Girls: The Remarkable Story of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Became Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assassins–and WWII Heroes, by Tim Brady, was published in February. When Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands in May of 1940, Hannie Schaft and sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegen were not yet twenty. Angered by the invasion and the treatment of the Dutch people, they joined the resistance. Their task was two-fold: to save as many of their Jewish friends and neighbors while doing everything they could to stop the German army in its tracks.

This book is amazing. It is a heart-pounding, blood-pumping, thriller of a ride. What these girls did is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Giving the middle finger to the enemy and the patriarchy, they fought for their freedom and their lives while others were content to remain silent or fall in line with the Nazi regime. They are heroes in every sense of the word and should always be remembered as such.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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