Hate should have no place in this world. It turns us against one another and forces unnecessary destruction of property and life.
This past Sunday was the first anniversary of the shooting in Buffalo. It is a remembrance that no one wanted or needed. But because we allow racism to persist and refuse to enact reasonable gun control laws, 10 people lost their lives.
Though it seems that the antisemitism of the past has died, it is simmering just under the surface. As time progresses and the family changes, the safety net slowly dissipates, revealing the dark underbelly that was only waiting for an opportunity to be released into the world.
Leopoldstadt is one of the best plays I have ever seen. If my own work is half as good as this script, I will jump for joy.
What astounds me is that there are 38 main characters across multiple decades and generations. In my own writing, one of the rules that I go by is to limit the number of people who exist within the worlds I am creating. Too many characters make it confusing for both the writer and the reader/audience. No one on that stage is an afterthought or hastily drawn.
Based on the revelations of Stoppard’s own family history that was hidden for decades, this story is universal, heartbreaking, joyous, and a reminder that the Holocaust is far from ancient history.
By the time we got to the final scene, the stage felt empty. It was as if the ghosts of those who were murdered filled up the space, begging the audience to never forget. My heart was pounding, and my mouth was open, but I could not speak. Without giving the specific details away, I will say that it is devastating and heartbreaking.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely. Run, don’t walk to see Leopoldstadt.
Leopoldstadt is playing until July 2. Check the website for tickets and showtimes.
Until the age of ten, Eva and Miriam had an ordinary childhood. In 1943, they were deported to Auschwitz. Separated from their parents and siblings, the girls survived twice over. Not only were their parents and sisters murdered, but they were among the minority of twins who did not die from being experimented on.
Though the book is meant for a younger audience, adult readers will not be bored. The details are so precise and cinematic that it is hard to ignore what can only be described as hades on Earth.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
I Will Protect You: A True Story of Twins Who Survived Auschwitz is available wherever books are sold.
Naked and open Antisemitism is on the rise in numbers that have not been seen for decades. Jews who have lived in comfort and safety with (most) of their non-Jewish neighbors, colleagues, and friends have been on the receiving end of vitriol that should scare the shit out of all of us.
There are two objectives for today. The first is for those of us who are MOT (members of the tribe) should be loud, proud, and unafraid of speaking our truths. The second is for our allies to be equally as vocal, to stand beside us and tell the haters where they can go.
A group of people who are a minority in their nation cannot fight hatred by themselves. They need others (specifically members of the majority culture) to walk hand in hand with them and work toward equality.
The fact is that we can learn from the past and prevent a repeat of what was. We just need the courage to do so.
Originally from Poland, David was the only member of his immediate family to see the end of the war. The only reason he walked out of Auschwitz was his singing. The audience travels with David and his grandson Avi as he talks about his past and visits the place in which he nearly died.
I loved it. I was in tears by the end. This was a man who had every reason to be angry and bitter. But he found the light and a reason to live. It is a message that anyone can relate to.
His attacker (who shall remain nameless on this blog) was given a slap on the wrist: six months in jail and five years probation. Alvin Bragg‘s office claims that they did a thorough investigation. If they did, these men would have been charged with a hate crime and given a significant jail sentence.
The message is loud and clear: anyone who verbally or physically assaults a Jewish person in NYC will not be treated as the criminal they are. They will be told they were naughty and nothing more.
That is not the city I know and love. Shame on you, Alvin Bragg. You know better. You could have done better, but you chose not to.
We all know that war and death go hand in hand. The question that unfortunately too often avoided is who is killed. Is it the soldier on the battlefield or the civilian who is trying to live as normally as possible?
Last Friday, Rabbi Leo Dee lost two of his daughters, Maia (20) and Rina (15) in a terrorist attack in Israel. His wife Lucy initially survived the attack but later died in the hospital. As a human being and a fellow Jew, my heart breaks for Rabbi Dee and his family. It’s one thing to destroy a military facility. It is another thing entirely to kill innocent civilians (the Palestinians usually MO). I ask you to close your eyes and just listen to a heartbroken husband and father whose family is forever changed.
The conflict was the subject of one of the segments on The Brian Lehrer Show. My beef with the conversation (as one of the listeners pointed out) is that the blame was mostly put on Israel. It was only later on that the Palestinian leadership was called out for their part in this decades-long war.
In a related news headline, the IDF was again accused of purposefully going after worshippers at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem last week. As usual, the finger-pointing was in one direction while the truth was buried.
If you are on Twitter, I ask that you create or share an existing tweet with the hashtag#DeesDays. Let Rabbi Leo know that he is not alone as he moves on without his wife and his daughters.
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group. In many cases, people will set aside their own personal beliefs or adopt the opinion of the rest of the group.
In Europe during World War II, while many went along with the antisemitic lies that led to the deaths of 6 million of my co-religionists, a brave few did everything they could have to save lives. Among them was Jan Karski. His story is told in the PBS/Great Performances program Remember This.
Playing Karski is David Strathairn in a one-man performance. He starts with the character’s early years, goes though the life-changing and heartbreaking experience during the war, and finally ends with his later years in America.
Stratharin gives a powerhouse performance. It took my breath away and reminded me that even when the masses speak hate, there are still a few who are not afraid to speak truth to power.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Remember This is available for streaming on the PBS app.
Trauma, by definition, has the power to leave emotional scars that can have a lifelong influence on us. Add on childhood trauma and the experiences of a young person during a war and you have the potential for major damage.
Once We Were Home: A Novel, by Jennifer Rosner, was published earlier this month. The book follows four protagonists as they survive World War II and deal with its aftermath. Siblings Ana and Oskar are smuggled out of the ghetto and live under Christian pseudonyms. After liberation, Ana quickly returns to the faith of their parents. Oskar prefers the life he had during the war.
Orphaned Roger grew up in a monastery in France. When surviving family members come to claim him and bring him to Jerusalem, Church leaders do everything they can to prevent the reunion. In the late 1960s, Renata is a post-graduate student whose early years are a mystery. After her mother’s death, she is determined to answer the questions that have been buried for decades.
What Rosner does well reveals the strength it takes to go through something like this and still live a full life. Her narrative also speaks to the difficult path that her characters walked to find a measure of happiness and satisfaction. For me, this book is a reminder that our children are more resilient than we assume them to be. As someone with mental health issues, the book highlights that we easily forget that mental health is as important as physical health.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Once We Were Home: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.
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