Banning Books is a Bad Sign of Things to Come

We all know that books open the door to the world. They take us on a journey to places we have never been to and introduce us to people who we might not otherwise meet.

Last week, several school districts around the country banned books that some consider to be “controversial”. Among these is the award-winning graphic novel, Maus. Maus is the story of the Holocaust using the allegory of mice as Jews and cats as Nazis.

It’s one thing if a parent, school, and/or schoolboard tailors the children’s reading to their age, maturity, and interests. It is another thing entirely to ban books that share ideas that don’t fit into your worldview.

The fact is that we, as adults, cannot keep our young ones in neat little bubbles for their entire lives. Even if their media diet is severely limited now, they will one day grow up and leave the nest. Part of that experience is meeting new people and being exposed to ideas that conflict with our own.

Holocaust Remembrance Day was last week. We celebrated MLK‘s birthday a couple of weeks ago. The events surrounding both are not ancient history. If we are to give our kids a complete education, that includes telling them the truth about both events, even when we don’t like the facts. If we don’t we are shortchanging them and our future.

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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.

The Holocaust and the Attack on Jussie Smollett Happened For The Same Reason

This past Sunday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. Earlier this week, actor Jussie Smollett was verbally and physically attacked on the streets of Chicago for being a member of the African-American and LGBTQ communities.

Though both events may appear to be different, they are related by one very disturbing fact: someone decided that because another human being is different, they have the right to verbally abuse and physically attack them. In an ideal world, we would judge our fellow human being by who they are as an individual, not by how the identify themselves. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where we someone walking down the street and we judge them based on factors such as skin color, religion, etc.

Last night, actor Ellen Page was on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and accused Vice President Mike Pence of contributing to the attack on Mr. Smollett.

I agree with her. Whether we realize it or not, those in power can influence the average man or woman on the street. If we see our political leaders working towards diversity and respect, we try to emulate them. On the flip side, if we see our political leaders endorsing hate/prejudice and using their position to legislate either, we see it as a go ahead to attack another human being because they are not like us.

It’s 2019. We have a choice at this point. We can choose love, diversity and respect for our fellow beings. Or, we can continue on this path of hate and prejudice. I hope that we (when I say we, I mean a collective cultural “we”), choose love, diversity and respect. But these days, hope often springs eternal.

 

Thoughts On Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Today. Today is the day that remember the millions of innocent souls who were murdered because they did not fit in with the Nazi ideal.

This day is particularly personal for me. I am an Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jew. Though my family has been in America for more than a century, they lived for many generations in Eastern Europe before immigrating to America in the early 20th century.

My mother’s grandparents came from Dobromil, a shtetl that in their time was in Poland. Today it is in the Ukraine.

 

My mother’s maternal grandmother, Ida Miller (née Lowenthal), came to this country with her then entire immediate family when she was a child. My mother’s maternal grandfather, Saul Miller, came to this country as a young man by himself. His widowed father, his siblings, their spouses and their children are among the martyred six million.

While we mourn the loss of millions of innocent lives, we are reminded every day that the Holocaust is not just another historical event. The sentiments and forces that led to the Holocaust have not disappeared into the ashes of history and under the cries of “Never Again”. Antisemitism is once again on the rise. A poll of 2000 people in the UK has revealed that one out of every five respondents believe that the Holocaust never happened and one in twelve respondents believe that the number of victims in inaccurate.

We need to keep telling the stories of the survivors and the victims. We need to keep saying never again so that one day, never again will truly mean never again.

 

Thoughts On Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today, we remember the millions of victims were killed simply for who they were.

I count myself among the lucky ones. My family has been in this country for more than a century. My great grandparents left Europe in the early 20th century, looking for a better life for themselves and their families in America. My grandparents were born in this country, I am a third generation Jewish American. But that does not exempt me from The Holocaust. Most of the family that my great grandparents left behind were slaughtered.

In the late 1970’s, one of my mother’s uncles added his grandfather, my great-great grandfather to the list of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem.

While I will go about my business today, my heart will be breaking a little.

May the memory of those killed be a blessing and a reminder of what happens when we forget that the person next to us is first and foremost just another human being.

Never again.

 

On This Holocaust Rememberance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. We remember the not just the six million Jews who perished, but the millions of others who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.

This Holocaust Remembrance Day feels different. It feels different because Donald Trump has enacted a ban on Muslim immigration to the US. While America in 2017 is not Nazi Germany in 1933, there are echoes of Nazi Germany coming out of the White House. Those echoes should send a chill down the spine of every American citizen and ask them to take a hard look at the man who is the leader of the free world.

I can’t help but think of the millions of lives that could have been saved had America opened her borders when the need was greatest. In May of 1939, the SS St. Louis left Germany with 900 Jewish souls aboard. Upon reaching the Americas, the ship and it’s passengers were rejected. The ship was forced to return to Europe and many of those aboard were killed by the Nazis.

While I understand the need to ensure that those with less than honorable desires are prevented from entering this country, I do not understand why innocent people fleeing persecution and violence should be denied entry into the US. It’s appalling and it breaks my heart.

We say never again every year. Unfortunately, never again has happened again. Not just to the my people, but to other groups as well.

Happy Friday.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Today we remember the 6 million Jewish souls whose lives were taken simply because they were Jewish.

There are so many angles that I can use to approach this post.

Today I want to talk about the possibilities that were lost.

The six million that were murdered, the possibilities of their lives were endless. But we will never know what directions their lives could have taken.

Especially the children. 1.5 million Jewish children were killed at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. An entire generation was lost before they truly had the chance the live. The children who did survive and grow to adulthood were forever changed. Imagine what these children who were murdered might have accomplished as adults. Imagine what their children and grandchildren and perhaps great-grandchildren would have accomplished as adults.  But we will never know.

Every year, we say never again. But sometimes it feels hollow, just another statement without action to back it up, especially considering that antisemitism is one more rearing its ugly head.

I’m going to say it again and perhaps it will stick with one person. I hope that is not too much to ask for.

May the memories of those murdered be a blessing to all of us, so we can remember how inhumane we can be to our fellow human being.

Happy Wednesday.

It’s Genocide, Stupid

The definition of genocide is as follows:

the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.

Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations has declared that that Armenian genocide 100 years ago was not a genocide. He labels it an “atrocity”.

This is just another example of why the UN has become more and more irrelevant.

If a particular ethic group or culture is singled out for murder simply because of who they are or what they believe, that is genocide. Plain and simple.

By denying or downgrading the facts, the UN is going against the very reason it was created. In it’s charter, the following is stated:

To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

Today, as many of you may know or not know, is Holocaust Remembrance Day. I stand with my Armenian brothers and sisters, who 100 years ago, faced the same fate that my own family faced 70 years ago.

Perhaps it’s time to clean house at the UN, or better yet, dismantle an organization that has become nothing more than a mouth piece for despots and murderers.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Tomorrow, April 15th, 2015 is Holocaust Remembrance Day. We remember the millions of lives who were needlessly taken and the survivors who lived with the emotional and physical scars that come with being a Holocaust survivor.

I can state with a fair amount of certainty that I am lucky. Like my parents and grandparents, I was raised in the United States. We were comforted and supported by the laws that guaranteed our rights as citizens and human beings.

That is where my luck ends. My great grandparents joined the millions who left their homes and families before World War I to reach for the opportunities that America represented. No one back then could have foreseen what was to come.

Imagine, if you can, ten people of Ashkenazic (Eastern European Jewish) descent in a room. If I were to ask them to raise their hands if their families were untouched by the Holocaust, I would guess that none of them would raise their hands.

My luck ends with World War II and the extermination of the family members that my great grandparents left behind when they came to America. On one side of my family, one of my great grandfathers lost his entire family. His father, his siblings, their spouses, their children and countless others perished in the Nazi Holocaust. Persuaded in his later years to write a book about his boyhood and the shtetl that he grew up in, it is not the stories of his youth that hits me every time I read it. It is the dedication before the story begins.

Dobromil Dedication

Tomorrow I will go about my business as if it was any other day. But my heart will be little heavier and I may shed a few tears.

Never Forget.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Today we remember the millions murdered 70 years ago. They were murdered not because they committed any specific crimes, but because they were who they were.

Jews, Gypsies, Communists, Homosexuals. They were all murdered because they chose to be true to who they were, instead of conforming to the society around them.

We say never again, but history continues to repeat itself.

Bosnia, Darfur, Syria. Millions of people are still murdered simply because of who they are, because of hate and prejudice.

Some might say that we don’t need to talk about the Holocaust anymore, that we have learned from the past.

We have not learned from the past.

We will continue to say never again, until we can finally say never again.

 

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