Am I Harping on the Holocaust?! (Published by The Times of Israel)

securedownload-79I have been asked this question repeatedly.  Those who haven’t asked want to know, but don’t want to ask, and that’s fair.  It’s a bleak and daunting chapter, which many including Jews, wish to simply put behind us.

It’s not because I’m Israeli, and it’s not because I’m the granddaughter of survivors.  And it’s not because I can’t find more sprightly, sassy, self-deprecating and humorous topics. Just read my blog – it is filled with entertaining anecdotes about marriage, botox and girlfriends. I live a full life like the rest of you.  I’m a mom, a wife, a writer.  I carpool, shop, exercise, get my nails done and laugh a lot.  But at my core, I am a Jewish woman in every fiber of my being.

Last week I saw a comment on one of my posts: “Erris says what we all are thinking, wondering, questioning.”  It was meant as a compliment, and I did my best to take it as such, but it got me thinking.  Am I really saying what I’m thinking?

What I’m really thinking is that we are not doing enough to never forget.  I want to know as much as I can to honor the memory of six million lives.  I feel I owe them that much.  Never again, we say.  And I agree – I’m not living in fear of a duplicate Holocaust, but I do live in fear of an astronomical rise in antisemitism, and an astounding apathy.  I find it hard to comprehend that I did not see more than a few commemorative posts or videos on Jewish friends’ pages on Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Surely, on that one day, all Jews would post something other than photos of food and the latest BuzzFeed survey results?

And last week I started to question myself as well.  Am I harping on dark fears instead of living la vida loca?  I could only quantify my feeling as a vague fear that antisemitism is not something we should just forget about and move on.  Escalating incidents around the world confirm that my fears are not vague  Even in “Jewish” New York City, demonstrations and hatred have reared their ugly heads.  I worry about sending my senior off to college.  How will he react to an inevitable BDS demonstration or to a professor spewing hate?  Still, I tried to understand why I seem more anxious than others, and I began to draft this article.  Writing helps me sort out my feelings.

And as I worked on my first draft, hatred hit my house.  Up close and personal.

Distractedly, I hit “save,” as I answered a call from the Middle School Principal. An 8th grader reported that another child called mine a “spoiled, rich Jew.”  The child was questioned and admitted to having said it.  The school administration did all the right things: They supported and comforted my daughter, they followed the district’s protocol for addressing hate speech, and notified all appropriate parties.  They took disciplinary action against the child discreetly, and didn’t share that information with me, out of respect for the offender’s privacy.  My daughter’s friends called and texted their support all afternoon and evening, and we were overwhelmed by the kindness and warmth in the aftermath of this vile incident.

Procedurally, everything went smoothly, but my daughter and I were shell-shocked.  How could a child conjure this hideous stereotype and utter such venom vocally in front of others? I suspect that it stems from her home environment. Children aren’t born hating – it is a learned behavior.  And through the outpour of support we received from other parents, we learned that my suspicions were unfortunately likely correct.

“She could have called me anything else, and it wouldn’t have mattered,” my daughter told me.  “But she had to add in ‘Jew.'”

I know, my sweet girl.  I know.

I don’t think another Holocaust in duplicate form is waiting for us just around the corner. But I do think that there is an alarming rise in antisemitism, that is steadily permeating our everyday lives.  And I fear that we are closing our eyes.  Are we too comfortable to stand up, speak out and rock the boat?  Sound familiar?  Hashtags like ‘Never Again’ are meaningless slogans, if all we mean is – that exact same thing can’t happen again.  What about everything else that has been and is happening again and again.  Is anybody out there listening?



4 Replies to “Am I Harping on the Holocaust?! (Published by The Times of Israel)”

  1. You are certainly not harping, and I was so sorry to hear that Maya had to experience anti-semitism first hand. I have been to Yad Vashem, and you cannot put into words what you are feeling after spending a few hours there. No one, no matter what religion or nationality, should ever forget the Holocaust.

  2. You’re not harping. The precursor to genocide is the dehumanization and defamation of a ethnic, religious or other distinctive group. We are seeing this now with Israel, the Jew among nations, whose very existence is questioned, accused of the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs, a double calumny. Not only is it an obvious blooper (where are the killing fields, gas chambers and forced exilic matches?). But it also expropriates the imagery of the true Holocaust, thereby trivializing it and paving the way for its redux. When Khamanei calls Israel a cancer, how does he imply it should be treated?

  3. Children don’t really understand. How they act and react is a reflection of what is blaring at them through the media more so than what they hear at home. They reflect the times. How it’s handled now as to how it when I was raising my children is another story.

    One day a friend of my son, the friend happened to be part of one of the very few black families in our area, approached me with my son not far behind. He said “Mr. G xxx called me a N****” I know it was never a word he heard spoken in our home. I said “Well let’s see what we can figure out.” With both boys facing each other and neither being confrontational, I began to explain to my son in a short sweet loving manner. “That’s one word I never want to hear from your mouth. Call him an A**H****, a poopie head, fatso, idiot, jerk etc… I will kick your ass if I ever hear of it again. You have no idea of what you said but some day you will.” At that the friend looked at me kind of surprised that my language was so harsh. I turned to him and looked him in the eye and said “And if I ever hear you use that word I’ll kick your ass all the way to your front door where you dad will finish the job.” End of discussion. They wandered off and continued to play.

    Now I know I should have consulted the school councilor, I should have apologized for my son, I should have had my son apologize to the young boy. I didn’t. What I do know is that neither boy forgot it. One is a doctor now and my son, well… he’s a good father, a better father than I was.

    I say this because above all it’s not what others say or do about situations our children find themselves in, it’s about what we do and how we interact with our children that makes a difference. Having met your daughter and knowing you a bit, I’m certain she came away stronger and with a lesson learned and it was not what the councilor said in school that was important. It was your love, wisdom and strength.

    If you don’t “harp” on what’s important I assure you the bleats of the sheeple will grow in volume as they are lead to the next Holocaust. You are not harping.

  4. I agree with you and not because we are friends. History repeats itself. People are to quick to forget things that did not happen personally to them. I have so many feelings about this that I cannot even begin to write them out and eloquently as you do. Thank you for continuing to write it.

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