One of the big adjustments for me as a mourner of a parent, a status that lasts a Jewish Year, is that I’m not permitted to watch my usual entertainment on the television, or my favorite movies–mostly old musicals– on DVD. I’ve been listening to a lot of shiurim, Torah and Tanach (Bible) classes from the computer, mostly Matan where I study, and I have no problem with newscasts.
In Israel there are two days a year when all the television programs suit the restrictions of mourners. As according to Jewish Tradition, the day begins at night, so last night on the Eve of Holocaust Memorial Day there were all sorts of television shows about the Holocaust, survivors etc. One I found particularly annoying and political; it was on Israel’s Chanel 1. Their news editors do their best to turn even the weather into complaints about the government, and they had an “expose`” of sorts emphasizing the difficulties many elderly “survivors” have financially and how some sort of fall between the bureaucratic cracks, because they don’t fit the clerical and/or legal definition of “survivor.” They may have been too young or escaped too early or stayed in Europe too long to get German reparations which helped so many people financially. And now they are decades past retirement age, and like many elderly, have serious financial problems which they hope the Israeli Government can solve. I changed channels.
I caught another program with interviews and films of survivors returning to their “former homes/countries” where they had suffered. There was also a Holocaust movie with Daniel Craig that I watched a bit until they had a crazy scene that meshed together Jewish wedding music and a battle.
Everyday fewer and fewer survivors, witnesses to the atrocities of the Nazis and too many others remain alive and/or capable of telling their tales. Yad Vashem and the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive are rushing to film and tape everyone who can possibly tell a first person tale of the Holocaust and survival. A friend of mine and her siblings recently accompanied their father back to Europe on a trip filmed by one of these groups.
The Holocaust was a very black and evil time in World History, and we shouldn’t forget that it happened in advanced and cultured Europe. That’s a message we must take to heart, and that is why I consider the terrible anti-Israel/antisemitic rhetoric coming out of even the most respected, academic and “open/Liberal” universities all over the world so troubling. The distortions in their thinking, teaching and ideologies are even more dangerous than Hitler’s rantings and Mein Kampf.
I see myself as a realist, a pragmatist. Do you agree?Batya Medad