It’s Yom Hashoah and social media is brimming with sentimental posts. Many of the survivors, well, whoever is left I suppose, are booked to tell their stories publicly. But, I’ve been thinking about these survivors. They witnessed horrific events, and along with the shirts on their backs, they brought with them the harrowing memories. Their tales of recollection are lessons for us “modern and enlightened” folk. They serve as blatant warnings of the sadistic depths mankind can reach when inspired to do so. What have we learned from these tales?
I would venture to say… not much.
One would think that because of what we went through 70 years ago, then Jews, of course, would shudder with the smallest exposure to violence. But, we are well into the 21st century, and in our “modern and enlightened” generation, it seems more like the Stone Age with our choice of entertainment. I’m appalled by the popularity of certain shows like American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and Sons of Anarchy. I don’t watch T.V. but students have prompted me to check them out. I couldn’t tolerate more than ten seconds of reading their online reviews. Audiences love the twisted sadism, and celebrate as their actors are awarded for their realistic performances.
Today, I got a call from a mother who found out her daughter is a big fan of (aka addicted to) American Horror Story. She’s only 11 years old.
What dignified human being can applaud the dissemination of this junk to the masses? Why are we spoon-feeding the future generation with inspiration to repeat the violent past? How can we claim on this day, to “Never Forget”, and then curl up cozy with a Netflix sadistic thriller? Why are we normalizing the abnormal?
I would venture to say that it is not enough to “Never Forget”. The only way forward is to “Always remember”:
Always remember that we are dignified human beings with a G-dly purpose.
Always remember that part of that purpose is to take responsibility for the world around us.
Always remember that the world around us will be as good or as bad as we make it.
Always remember that these lessons are timeless and integral to being a Jew.
On one of my trips to Auschwitz, I heard incredible words from a holocaust survivor who was accompanying us. He said, “The most important lesson of the holocaust is to always be learning and growing to become a better Jew. The world will follow suit.”
Today is the day that we should commit to start learning and remembering the lessons our grandparents schlepped overseas. Today is the day that we commit to “always remember”.