Holocaust · Politics · Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle · Writing, editing, editorial, philosophy

Safety

One of the realities about the Holocaust that has recently occupied my time and thoughts is that very often, family members were separated without warning and without any means of preventing that separation. For example, a father and older son who could be put to work in a German factory were seized, leaving the mother and sisters as well as the grandparents who may have been living with them. Because killings were usually random and without provocation, there was no way to stop or prevent the atrocities.

Based on the recent events in Michigan, including the desire to overthrow the government and kidnap the governor, I began to think of the realities that we take for granted that may be in jeopardy. When I leave for school in the morning, I fully expect to return home in the afternoon without incident. We make the same assumptions going to the grocery store, manicure, or any other journey. What if my husband or children had to begin to worry about the safety of my journeys, whether to the grocery store or California?

For all my life, I have been an advocate of individual political rights. If you want to demonstrate, do so. If you want to protest in a peaceful manner, you likewise have my blessing. But when you threaten to initiate a revolution and establish a brand new form of rule in this wonderful, powerful democracy, I object. Kidnapping with the intent to do harm is no less horrible than Nazis breaking down your door and sending you to Auschwitz or Treblinka at will. And if you object to a particular statue or monument, don’t look at it. Others of us may appreciate the sentiment or the art.

There is a fine line between freedom of speech and diatribe for revolution. As someone who is particular sensitive to the language of white supremacists or any other type of hate advocates, I will take immediate offense at any attempts toward autocracy. What is it that makes you feel that you have a better alternative than the democracy that we enjoy in the United States? While I fully understand that races and natural origins are not yet treated equally, I will not support your movement toward condemning the form of government that we have in place. It’s difficult to imagine a methodology or system that would be preferable to that which we enjoy. Your acts of violence suggest that what you are proposing is much less tolerable.

If you don’t like it here, go somewhere else. We will not miss your terrorism, hate, and demonstrations of force. At no time do I want those around me to wonder if I will arrive home safely. The allies sufficiently defeated the Nazi way of thinking and can do so again, if necessary. Shalom.

Holocaust · Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Gifts

Imagine for a moment that you are one of those people who derive enjoyment and gratification from doing good deeds for others. That inclination may take any number of forms. It may be contributing to a particular organization – the American Cancer Society, the Parkinson’s Foundation, the Salvation Army – it doesn’t matter which one.

Beyond that, you may derive enjoyment from volunteering at organizations within your community. That may be a senior center, a pet adoption center, a zoo, or any other group representing a cause in which you firmly believe.

For the purposes of my fantasy, let’s imagine that you suddenly have unlimited ability to distribute good, either in the form of volunteering, donating, or anything else. You weren’t expecting to have that potential and discovering that you have it is both exciting and inspirational.

Today, I had the realization that I am in that position, simply by virtue of publishing the book that I have been occupied with writing for the past number of years. If you haven’t seen it, the book is:

Two papas: a tale of impossible Holocaust survival  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08G3PGK41/ref=cm_sw_r_em_api_HHupFbW4BEP89.

While I am certain that I will hear from those who know me or have previously read my work, I have no idea whatsoever who will be reading what I have created. The internet and rapid distribution of publications have made that possible and I am grateful for that reality.

And so, if I have brought understanding, enlightenment, hope, or any other reaction to the readers whom I don’t know, this is my gift. Perhaps I have been so occupied with the way people whom I know will react to the book, I never thought of the others. But I have no idea who else will benefit in any way, either from scrolling through Amazon, word of mouth, or another medium.

Words are insufficient to express how happy this makes me. Call me naive that this is the first time that these thoughts have occurred. That fact would certainly explain why I feel that I have donated to the world in a way that can’t be measured in volunteer hours or cash contributions. Thank you. Shalom.

Holocaust · Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Peace

Falling asleep recently, the word “peace” kept echoing in my head, demanding my attention. It’s pointless to wonder how I am presented with a concept or an image in this way. Maybe I am accustomed to receiving writing inspiration and have learned to recognize its value and significance.

In any case, I began to think about peace as it applies to my world. Has our world stopped seeking peace and working toward its realization? In our current US climate of political turmoil and angry bravado, most of what we hear is conflict. As one person, I have little power to create peace outside my immediate sphere but maybe that’s the best place to start.

The process of establishing and perpetuating a personal peace is a method of proving that a more widespread and popular peace is truly realistic. We can all actively minimize our own stress rather than catapulting it into the outside world.

Here’s how it works. You’re driving and someone thoughtlessly cuts you off. To main civility, instead of cursing or honking, take a deep breath and smile sweetly. Someone else is discourteous as you’re doing your grocery shopping. The best response is to invite a shopper to get ahead of you to check out. Or ask someone if he or she needs any help, to lift something or put groceries in the car.

Doing acts of kindness is easily accomplished. Because it’s win-win, one of the byproducts is a sense of accomplishment. Creating good makes you feel good and promotes peace. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you are more inclined toward that state of mind that any other. May peace (Shalom) be with you.

Holocaust · Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Library

Several days ago, I mentioned an inspiration attributed to The Librarian of Auschwitz, by Antonio Iturbe and Lilit Thwaites. As I continue to read this remarkable book, I find many concepts and phrases that are worth remembering. One of them refers to the time before Nazi tyranny, “…when words rang out more loudly than machine guns.”

The reference is to libraries and their vast richness for all who choose to indulge themselves in them. If you’ve read my earlier blogs, you know that I have a sincere reverence for libraries and worry about their decreasing popularity. My last several weeks have included a trip to the local library. As always, I am enriched by the experience.

Leaving our last home, I contributed many cartons of books to the library, both to add to their collection and make some available for purchase by the locals. In spite of that sacrifice, I consult my personal library every day. It’s a remind of where I’ve been and what I’ve learned. In spite of the ease of acquiring e-books, I find myself frequently buying paperbacks, primarily for the ability to return to selected lines or phrases without electronic processes.

Does this mean that I am an antique? Can it be that ultimately all volumes will be digitized and we will no longer have my cherished volumes? My best guess is that it can’t be avoided but that I probably won’t live long enough to see the mass digitization occur.

But the sensitivity of those living through the Holocaust persists with me. In addition to losing security, food, clothing, political freedom and the certainty of being surrounded by loved ones, I am touched by the despair over losing the printed word.

There’s no way to measure what loss is the greatest and I have been blessed with the conditions that have excluded oppression and terrorism. The historian and educator in me shudder at the loss of information availability, making it crucial that I do everything in my power to guarantee free, scholarly thinking. Shalom.

 

Holocaust · Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Everywhere schools

As part of my relentless search for truth and resolution for World War II and the Holocaust, I was fortunate to encounter a book called The Librarian of Auschwitz, by Antonio Iturbe and Lilit Thwaites. This is a remarkable book of courage and determination, full of brilliant language and poignant observations. But I was stopped in my tracks by a quote from one of the educators in Auschwitz. The quote was this: “Each time someone stops to tell a story and children listen, a school has been established.”

As an educator and historian, this piece of philosophy creates magnificent images for me. The first is an opportunity to create schools wherever we are. No need for brick and mortar institutions – kids are everywhere. We see them in stores, restaurants, parks, playgrounds, museums and anywhere else you can name. And each time we do, there always exists the potential for creating a school. And simply for the sake of clarity, I define a school as an entity where knowledge of any type is transmitted and received.

How about this for an example? You’re in a grocery store and the lady in front of you observes that she left her wallet at home and seeks desperately for a method of payment. You quietly let the lady know that you’ll take care of her groceries. The child in her cart observes, wide-eyed and smiling.

The same grocery store and you’re in line to check out. A lady behind you has a small child and only one or two items. Once again, you quietly let the lady know that she is welcome to get ahead of you in line, for the purposes of getting out of the store with haste.

Those of you who home school your children understand this quote better than most folks. An inherent beauty of home schooling is the fact that the entire day is filled with teaching, from cooking breakfast to cleaning house, to walking the puppy, to communicating with visitors.

For the rest of us, we can find a plethora of teaching moments. Explain to your child that dropping clothing and household items at Goodwill or a thrift store enables those with limited resources to buy those things. Because giving cash to panhandlers can be expensive if practiced constantly, use the periodic donations to explain to children that it’s a good practice to help those in need.

Educating is a privilege and pleasure, no matter where, when or how. Think of it as I do – one more addition you can make to the beautification of the world. Shalom.