It is as if I am being pursued by them, so constant is my pace when it comes to them. What am I talking about? A few topics that have been an obsession for me for most of my life, even during my earliest days.
One of those topics is the Holocaust. When I was young I was aware that my father had grown up in a Jewish family, but that he no longer practiced that faith. My mother was Catholic, and after visiting many churches in the years before I was 5 or 6, we ended up Catholic too. (I was baptized in a Catholic church about 5 months after I was born. Honestly, I’m not sure how that happened in the 50’s given the irregular status of my parents marriage and general lack of church attendance at the time, but somehow it did.)
That said, my obsessive curiosity about Judaism started at an early age. And while I cannot tell you how old I was when I first became aware of the Holocaust, I can tell you that the tumble down the rabbit hole of interest came quickly and with intensity. Perhaps it began with Anne Frank’s diary? Who knows? Whatever it was, I was hooked for life.
By time the early 70’s rolled around I consuming books and the films that were made about them with great intensity. Two that stand out for me are The Odessa File and Marathon Man. Nothing holds up to the book I read numerous times – Exodus. If my memory is clear, I saw the movie first. That film was released in 1960, and I am pretty sure that I watched it on TV with my parents.
One scene captivated me, and in those days before stop and rewind, I had to hold it in my memory.
As a kid that blew my mind. As an older person today it still blows my mind, but in a different way. The kid in me thought about how Peter Lawford fell for the trick. The adult in me is disgusted to know that people continue to talk about Jews and others with that same disgraceful intent.
Another topic that has long obsessed me is that of forgiveness. It anchors me in my Catholic Christian faith, even when forgiveness is far from my mind and spirit. Which is more often than I care to admit. *sigh* That said, as a younger and angrier person I understood and often craved revenge for slights large and small. Today, angry or not, I do not find that revenge is anything I desire.
Feeling angry about situations and people is very important and very necessary. It is what I choose to do with that anger that matters in the end. Feeling it and acknowledging it is part of dealing with it. Letting go of it at some point is the only way to freedom if you ask me.
Forgiveness is often confused with some simplistic canceling out of what was done, but that is not it at all. At some point, I just do not think it is worth holding onto. This may seem a strange example, but hearing the person in this video describe this (although in a different forum, but I could not find that one on YouTube) was actually very eye-opening to me nearly 20 years ago. Just watch and listen – it is short, but powerful! Yes, of all people it is Tammy Faye who has a way of getting the message of letting go across…
You may be wondering where this particular ramble is headed – maybe not?! Well, today I read that Eva Mozes Kor, a true champion of life, living, and forgiveness died on July 4. Not only did she die, but she not far from where she somehow cheated death during the Holocaust.
Eva Mozes Kor was on her annual CANDLES Museum tour to Auschwitz when she fell ill and died on July 4. Independence Day here in her adopted home of the US. How interesting that confluence of events is.
Do you know about Eva, now of blessed memory? She was a feisty Jewish woman who had not only survived Auschwitz, but had survived the evil experimentation of Dr. Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death. At this link you will find information about him, with mentions of Kor.
I cannot recall when I first heard of Eva Kor, but I remember being deeply moved by her words and actions. She was a real champion of triumph over evil if you ask me. Is it hard to watch her forgive those who actively worked against her? It certainly is, but aren’t most worthwhile things full of challenge? Eva herself addresses this time and again in her work, here is one example.
We live in a time when hate seems to be on the rise, and when prejudice, racial, and religious division are easily found. Can we consider actively choosing another path? If we choose such a path, I think that Eva in life and in death, makes an excellent guide for us.
May her memory forever be a blessing! Please visit the website for the CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) Museum and consider a donation to keep the powerful work that Eva began alive.