The Observant Astronomer

The passing scene as observed by an observant Jew, who daylights as an astronomer.

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Friday, May 06, 2005

Yom Hashoa

Bluke articulates a discomfort I've long felt towards these communal Holocaust commemorations. My father is a survivor. He was 11 when the war started, and his family escaped from Lodz before the Germans set up the ghetto there. He was in various camps after the village they hid in was reduced. He used to tell me stories about his experiences during the war as bedtime stories. Not the horrible stuff. More his various attempts to gain a little more food, to make life a little easier. His father, a'h, died in a boxcar as the Germans shuffled them about in the last weeks of the war, but his mother and sister survived. My grandmother a'h had a number tattooed to her arm. To this day, dealing with the government gives me the shakes. At any time, in the back of my mind, they are coming for me to drag me off to who-knows-where. So, it isn't like I'm ignoring history.

But I've never felt comfortable participating in these ceremonies and commemorations. Even before becoming observant, something just didn't feel right about them. Is it that they were too focused on all the death? "They wanted to kill us just because we're Jews." Remembering that becomes the total of Jewish existence. Well, that and buying Israel bonds. Germany and Israel. Death and..., more death? And marches. March of the Living. Walks for Israel. How did marching become a mitzvah?

So I sit them out. If the point of the exercise is to remind the world that we're still around, well I don't need to go, a couple of times a year, to listen to speeches at the town Holocaust memorial to do that. Let me take the bus with a yarmulke and tzitzis. Let me cancel my classes for Chol HaMoed. Let them see me with my Jewish children. And let them stand around memorial sculptures and think about hate and death. I've got better things to do.

2 Comments:

Blogger Rebeljew said...

I would cancel the annual reading of Gittin on Tisha B'Av, and the annual recital of the Harugei Malchus during Yom Kippur while we are at it.

They are quite disturbing.

Perhaps the point is that if the Jews protested during the war, things might have been different. That is as specious as anything else that will offered.

4:18 PM, May 06, 2005  
Blogger The Observer said...

Fine, abolish them. There is no obligation to read them in any event. But you still have to fast. And leave the leather shoes in the closet.

1:35 AM, May 09, 2005  

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