Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Yom HaShoa

Today was Yom Hashoa. I really do not think about Yom Hashoa much. The shoa was something that had a great impact on my parents' generation. But it did not really affect me. My grandparents, of course, had their lives changed and irreperably damaged. One of my grandparents was in concentration camps, another in Nazi labor camps. The other two managed to flee to Russia and end up in work camps there.

Those of you who follow my life here know that having spent a lot of time in Germany, I have given this considerable thought. (See the August blogs.) I think there is a lot more power in forgetting. I do not want to appear to be in denial about the Holocaust. I just really believe that the best revenge is living well. The best way to defeat those who strove to destroy you is to show them how much in vain their efforts turned out to be.

Again, that is not to say that I am against Yom Hashoa being a national day of mourning for Israel. I do not want to be seen either as if I am capitulating to Norman Finkelstein, who claims that Jews have over-exploited the holocaust. But for me the holocaust is kind of like the crusades. It really is ancient history. My grandparents all suffered, but by raising me in the US they protected me from this. I was sheltered to the point that while I thought the Europeans were and probably still are barbarians, I could not get too worked up about it.

I have no business forgiving the Europeans. They harmed my ancestors, not me. Nor would I forgive them if was harmed. But nor can I take it any more personally then the Egyptian bondage, the Spanish inquistion, the pogroms all over Europe for centuries, etc. "Behol dor v'dor omdim alenu lehaloteinu. . ." and yet I am still here, and most of them are gone. I have survived them all.

I am part of a new generation that has absorbed the lessons of history to the point where I really do not need to think about it. I am part of a generaltion of Jews who don't take that crap.