Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, May 12, 2008

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust Remembrance Day was at the beginning of the month. DCNY wrote a very nice post about it. The Cranky Prof wrote a stunning post (that blog no longer exists).

I let it slide. Part of the reason is, for me, it seems that Holocaust Remembrance Day is every day.

I am probably the poster child for an agnostic Jew. I believe in a divine creator, if only because I take some thin comfort in the idea that maybe there is a point to the Universe (or the Multiverse). A divine creator also is an answer to the question: "What Caused the Big Bang?" But beyond that, I don't have much truck with organized religion. Yes, having a set of laws handed down by God was the basis for a modern legal system, but laws existed in other nations before the Fifteen Ten Commandments. Organized religion, to me, seems a vehicle well suited for the use by tyrants and demagogues to give a divine cover to their programs of conquest, enslavery, oppression and murder.

But I digress.

I am a second generation American on one side of my family and a third on at least of the other side. So I am 2 or 3 generations removed from the ones who came over on the ships. Most of them had passed by the time I was old enough to understand, so I didn't hear their stories directly. I did hear a few of the stories from their children, the generation before mine.

One of the immigrants would make sure that her children knew how to move with very little. She would move her family every few years and drastically limit what they could take with them. A fair number of her family had not left the Jewish areas of Imperial Russia because they were relatively prosperous. Her opinion was that you don't own things, things own you, and that if you had too much stuff, you wouldn't flee when you should. She was right, for between the pogroms, the Russian Revolution, the Russian Civil War, the famines and then the Holocaust, all contact with what relatives remained behind was lost.

The second prong is the celebration of Passover. Passover is celebrated in most Jewish homes, each year, every year. The first night is celebrated and then it sort of drops off, depending how how observant one's family happens to be. The Passover meal is eaten around the reading of the Haggadah. In a thumbnail, the story is about the survival of the Jewish people in the face of enslavement in Egypt and of the Jews from bondage. The text of the Haggadah contains this line: "For not just one alone has risen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand!"

Almost all families, every year, commemorates the events of the Exodus, a series of events which took place roughly 3,500 years ago.

If you grow up in a Jewish household, even in one that observes little beyond Passover and Hanukkah, you grow up with the idea that there are people in the world who will very cheerfully kill you for no other reason than the fact that you are a Jew. If you then studied a little of the history of the Jews in Spain, in Sicily and in England, the point was driven home. If you were a child before the Vatican II reforms, you might remember the yearly blood libel. You might remember the rocks thrown by some Christian kids who sought a little bit of vengeance for the death of their Savior. You might have heard the stories handed down of the pogroms. The line of Woody Allen's that his grandmother never gave gifts because "she was too busy being raped by Cossacks" was funny to gentile ears but to the ears of Jews, those words contained a bitter history.

I remember the Holocaust. I remember it every day. Every day I live with the knowledge that there are people in this world who will cheerfully kill me for who I am. Jews have lived with that knowledge for millennia.

I remember the Holocaust.

I don't need a day of remembrance.

I don't think most Jews do.

(9/11 comparisons debunked)

5 comments:

deadstick said...

Bloody well said. Never again, jamais encore, nie wieder.

If you haven't seen Everything Is Illuminated, get your ass out and rent it.

Comrade Misfit said...

Seen it? I've never even heard of it. What's it about?

deadstick said...

Elijah "Frodo" Wood plays a successful and neurotic Jewish writer who decides to travel to the Ukraine, hunt down his ancestral village, and write a story about it that fills in the mysterious gaps in his family lore. It's a delightful comedy for the first half, then suddenly stumbles into a serious tearjerker.

The Lost Goat said...

Looks good - ordering it off netflix now.

Also, why is your anti-spam message in traditional Chinese? Do you get a lot of spammers from the States and Taiwan?

Comrade Misfit said...

LG, I was getting a lot of Chinese spam on all of my blogs for awhile. A co-contributor on another blog came up with the Chinese warning and I adopted it.