My family was lucky.
All four of my grandparents either arrived in the US or were born there in the late nineteenth century. On one side, my great-grandfather came to America, like so many other people from that time and place, looking for a better life and hoping to escape persecution. Another great-grandfather, a prosperous linen merchant who had turned away from a religiously observant lifestyle while still a young man, came to America in order to expand his business. Eventually he married the forelady of his factory.
During World War II, those members of the extended families still in Europe who did not manage to get out in time were murdered in the Holocaust. To this day, my mother remembers the moment when she and her family learned what had happened to the family that her grandmother had left behind: they had been marched out of town together with the rest of the community and shot, all murdered in a single day.
Let us not forget, let us never forget, that they, and all the Six Million, were murdered for one reason and one reason only: for being Jews. That was crime enough for our enemies.
It still is. Just ask the president of Iran, or the rest of the haters at Durban II.
Approximately twenty years ago, I got into a heated argument with an acquaintance who worked in the news business. He maintained that anti-Semitism was dead. I maintained that it was not.
I wonder what he thinks now.
* * *
Last night, I sang two songs at the Yom ha-Shoah memorial gathering held at Mizmor leDavid, a local synagogue. One was an original composition by Mindy Kornberg, a member of the community who is an accomplished musician and songwriter. The other was “Reyzele,” a love song by Mordechai Gebirtig. I wanted very much to sing it because while it does not deal with the terrible suffering and loss of the Holocaust, it describes the life and beauty that were taken away. Gebirtig himself, who was described later as “the Yiddish Bob Dylan” for his songs that addressed the important topics of the day, was murdered in the Krakow Ghetto in 1942.
Some links pertaining to the day, and to current events:
An optimistic post at Treppenwitz