Silence speaks volumes and actions speak louder than words. People can say whatever they want, but words mean nothing.
Tuesday was the 79th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. When the world turned its back on Europe’s Jews, it gave the Nazis carte blanche permission to persecute, starve, torture, and murder my Jewish brethren. The only way we could survive is if we saved ourselves. It was a f*ck you to those who decided that we were not worth fighting for.
In the years since then, Jews (and Israel by extension) have had to keep the figurative middle finger raised. Because once again, we have been told by actions that we should remain sheep to the slaughter.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I believe in the sacredness of the sites and the holidays within my faith. Earlier today, militant Palestinians decided that one of the holiest sites in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, was to be used not as a site of prayer, but of a battle. This is during Ramadan, which I think deserves a little more respect. Not only did they attempt to physically destroy the building, but they used it as a base to attack innocent people.
In my mind, that is akin to Jewish worshippers destroying the Western Wall during Yom Kippur to spite our neighbors. It is something I cannot comprehend.
Given that the basic concept of Jewish history is that we are still here despite many attempts at assimilation and extermination, I personally think that it’s time to not give a shit. If living means fighting for ourselves when no one else will, so be it.
The 2001 television movie, Uprising, is the story of the fight by the ghetto’s inhabitants against their oppressors. Starring David Schwimmer, Hank Azaria and Leelee Sobieski, the narrative tells the story of how Jews, crammed into the old slum of Warsaw, fought back against the Nazis for a month in 1943.
I think that this movie is important to watch. It’s important because not only does it dispel the myth that Europe’s Jews were mere lambs to the Nazi slaughter, it also is the story of how a small band of people can fight against tyranny, prejudice and murder.
Sometimes, in the heat of the war, the one thing that keeps us alive is music.
Władysław Szpilman was one of the most respected pianists in Europe in the years leading up to World War II. He was also Jewish.
His story of survival in the face overwhelming atrocities is explored in the 2002 award-winning film, The Pianist. Adrien Brody plays the title character. The movie starts with Władysław Szpilman forced into The Warsaw Ghetto with his family and thousands of other Jews. As the noose begins to tighten around the residents of the ghetto, he knows that his music maybe the only thing keeping him alive.
The Pianist stands out as a Holocaust film because of the music. The music reminds both the main character and the audience that even in the face of unmistakable evil and tragedy, if we can find one thing to remind us of our humanity, then there is hope. The music is the sliver of hope and light in the face of the darkness that is World War II and The Holocaust.