Tag Archives: Auschwitz

Open Letter to Sean Spicer Regarding his Comments made about Hitler and the Holocaust

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Dear Mr. Spicer,

I am the son of Holocaust survivors and I am writing to you in regard to the comments you made, of all days, on Passover.   Maybe I am not as forgiving as some, but to be blunt, your apology is not accepted. At least not by me.  And here’s why.

You started off by saying the following:

“You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

In an attempt to fix your error you went on to say:

I think when you come to sarin gas, [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing. . . . He brought them into, um, the Holocaust center  —  I understand that. But I’m saying in the way Assad used them where he went into towns, dropped them down into the middle of towns, it was brought  —  the use of it  —  and I appreciate the clarification.

Mr. Spicer, I do not believe you to be an anti-Semite, nor do I believe you made your comments out of any desire to hurt or offend any member of the Jewish community.  That being said, sometimes the words are so despicable, an adjective you yourself used, and the actions are so disgraceful, that neither an apology nor lack of malicious intent is enough to move on.  In addition, the nature of an apology tells a lot about how a person feels.  So when the apology seems more motivated by how bad you look and how much you let your boss down than it does the pain and anger you caused significant parts of an entire community, then apologizing is just not enough to make it all better.

The problem I have with this Mr. Spicer, is that your words revealed a deeper and more dangerous perception of the Jewish people and the horrors of what took place in the Holocaust.  To your credit, I do believe your apology tour makes clear you did not want to hurt anyone, but with your clear lack of understanding of where you went wrong you have a lot of work to do before I and many people who think as I do are willing to put this incident behind us.  Ironically I suspect my greatest opposition to the views I am stating here will come from my fellow Jews who are in your camp and feel I am some sort of traitor to my people for wanting Hillary Clinton as president over Donald Trump. They will come back to me with responses like, “Everyone is allowed to makes a mistake” or “Hillary would have done a lot worse for the Jewish people”.  To which I respond as follows. The seriousness of the mistake dictates how easily or soon it is forgiven, and this is not about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.  This is about Sean Spicer.

You see Mr. Spicer, you revealed a subconscious and critical perception, one likely ingrained in you for a long time, and that is the perception that Jews in Germany were not really Germans.  This perception is in line with how the Nazis perceived their Jewish population and the Jewish population throughout Europe.  They referred to them as sub-human. So from the perspective of the Nazis, Hitler didn’t use gas on his people because Jews were not really people.  I know you did not mean to infer this, but if you are to apologize, you might want to understand the deep-rooted problem in your comments.

I also felt part of your apology to be somewhat patronizing inasmuch as it came across as though you were sorry you even made a reference to Hitler, as though mentioning his name is enough to offend us Jews.  Jews don’t necessarily mind the reference being done appropriately, but when the President’s detractors compare him to Hitler I find myself protesting that as well, because as much as I am not a fan of your boss, calling him another Hitler is inappropriate on many levels.  To refer to Bashar al-Assad as being like Hitler in regard to his penchant for murder is appropriate enough that had your comments not gone further than that, I doubt many people would have protested, despite some glaring holes in the comparison.  One such hole being that Assad has never exhibited an ambition towards global domination, and the other being that his brutality is based more on controlling with an iron tyrannical fist than it is on wiping out an entire segment of the population. But inasmuch as Assad has shown himself to be an evil murderer , he is similar to Hitler.

I guess what bothers me most Mr. Spicer, is that although I believe you when you say you are sorry, I am not convinced you really understand enough for your apology to really count.  Until you know that places like Auschwitz and Dachau were Concentration Camps or Death Camps, not Holocaust Centers, and until you understand the problem with your words is not just the use of Hitler’s name but the lack of understanding of what it does to a people to have 6 million members of their kind murdered, I will see your apology more as an ‘oops I messed up’ than a deep feeling of regret.  When this is more about an understanding for the sadness of the Jewish people and less about a feeling of letting your boss down, only then will I personally accept your apology.  Who am I you might ask?  I am someone representative of how a significant segment of the Jewish population feels, I am an American, and I am a Jew. These factors all give me the right to speak my mind.

Mr. Spicer, if you take the time to learn more about what happened in Europe under Nazi occupation and truly understand the devastation, I am sure you will not only express openly a new mindset, but you may even be a better person for it as well.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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On International Woman’s Day: A Tribute to the Famous Woman I admire most. My mother

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Today is International Woman’s Day and one of my social media friends posted the question, “Which famous woman do you admire most?”  Although my initial reaction was to say Golda Meir, I chose to change my answer to Sipora Groen.  Sipora Groen is my mother, and although my book about my parents and how they survived the 4 years of Nazi occupation in Holland isn’t the bestseller I naturally hoped it would be, I think enough people know about my mother to classify her as famous.  If that’s not enough, let me tell you why how admirable she is makes up for where you may not consider her famous enough for this discussion.

Sipora Rodrigues-Lopes was born in Amsterdam on January 1, 1922.  Sipora lost her mother when she was a young girl of only 13 and  was left with a large share of the responsibility in raising her younger brother Bram.  Prior to the war Sipora fell in love and got engaged to a young man named Hans.  At the outbreak of the war in Holland she was studying to be a nurse, and when the Nazis occupied Amsterdam and began the process of rounding up the Jews and transporting them to the death camps, Sipora was living in the nurse’s quarters of the Jewish hospital.  Her personal life was turned upside down seemingly forever when not only her father and brother fled Amsterdam to ultimately be captured and murdered by the Nazis, but the love of her life and fiance Hans was taken away to Auschwitz.  Alone and feeling hopeless, all she had was the work she had taking care of the sick patients.  If not for Nardus Groen, my father of blessed memory,  the man she would later spend her life with, she likely would have been transported to her death along with the majority of the patients.  Instead she began a journey with Nardus through the Dutch countryside that took her from place to place, through homes of righteous Dutch people who put the value of life over religious belief or personal danger.  Ultimately she ended up in the home of Lubertus & Geeske te Kiefte, the righteous and courageous couple that risked sacrificing everything in order to give her a safe home in the small town of Lemerlerveld for almost a year and a half until the war ended.

As the war ended in Europe, Nardus joined the Dutch Marines to help in the fight against the Japanese, not knowing till later that Sipora was pregnant with his child.  Part of the reason Nardus didn’t know was because originally Sipora didn’t know.  She took a job in a local hospital when upon feeling tired and worn down she was told by the Director of the hospital that she was indeed with child.  She moved back to Amsterdam only to find her home now occupied by the housekeeper who was with the family before the war.  The housekeeper pushed Sipora to leave the house despite her now advanced pregnancy, forcing her to take a very small apartment with very little heat in winter. If not for the help of her father’s childhood friend who gave money for her new home, Sipora might have found herself pregnant and homeless right right after spending 5 years running and hiding from the Nazis and losing so many of the people closest to her.  Just a few months after the birth of her son Marcel, Sipora would contract the lung disease known as pleurisy and would spend months in the hospital away from what felt like the one hope she had in life, her newborn son.

With his love for Sipora and a now a son, Nardus chose to leave the military and return to Holland where he would try to help rebuild the now decimated Jewish community.  He would be ordained as a Rabbi and start the process of building a family with Sipora who was now his wife.

Nardus and Sipora would have 5 children and would move often from place to place.  They ended up in America in the late 1950’s where they would live till 1976.  In 1976 they would move back to Holland where Nardus would take over a synagogue in the town of Arnhem while taking on responsibilities of the Jewish communities in 6 provinces throughout the country.  At the same time Sipora would become Director of the Jewish old age home in Arhem where she would be loved and respected by residents and employees alike.   After years of hard work between the 2 of the them, and setting themselves up for their senior years, Nardus and Sipora would retire, first to the Dutch seaside town of Zandvoort and later to Boynton Beach, Florida.

On June 13 of this year it will be 10 years since my father Nardus Groen passed away.  I’ve learned this about my mother during the time since his death.  This is in many ways my mother Sipora’s 5th life.  The first life, the most innocent and peaceful was the one she lived till the age of 13 when she lost her mother.  The second was the next 5 years, a time of peace in Europe but a time of both love and difficulty for Sipora.   The 3rd, and unquestionably the hardest was the 5 years of the war, a time we can try to comprehend but never fully understand.  The 4th were the relatively normal but still often very difficult years following the war, where she and Nardus worked hard and sacrificed to raise 5 children, experiencing all the trials and tribulations any family would during decades of normal life.  This was the longest of her lives to date as it would last till the death of Nardus over 60 years later.

The 5th life, and in some ways the most remarkable one is the one she is living now.  It is the life she has lived since my father’s death 10 years ago.  On January 1st Sipora Groen turned 95 years old.  This is a woman who reinvented herself upon becoming a widow while simultaneously honoring the memory of the man she still loves today.  She drives, she shops, she host Mahjong games, threw her own 95th birthday party on her own insistence, takes plane and train rides alone, is an active member of her synagogue and even has her own Facebook account. But what is most remarkable is the love of life she displays and the warmth she shows for family and friends, a warmth that can only be credited to a strength of will and character unimaginable to most of us.

In those moments when I would feel unreasonable self-pity I would sometimes ask myself, why can’t I be that guy?  The guy born into money with no worries, or the guy with incredible talent recognized by millions, or that person living the charmed life where very little ever goes wrong.  But not so long ago I realized I am that guy, because I am the son of a 95 year old mother who you just read about and who not only has gone through and achieved everything I wrote about, but has the incredible state of mind to enjoy it and share her joys with those around her.   You want to recognize someone admirable on International Woman’s Day, you need go no further than my mother, Sipora Groen.

 

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Marcel Groen’s words on the Effects of Immigration on Real Lives

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The following was written by my brother, Marcel Groen.  Marcel is the Chairman of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania.  He is a son, a husband, a brother, a father, a grandfather, and friend and colleague of many.  In this short but poignant piece however, he represents himself, the son of Holocaust survivors, more than anything else, as an American.  It is my honor and pleasure to share my brother’s words.

 

In the winter of 1942 Marcel Rodrigues went to the embassy in the Hague, the Netherlands, to apply for a visa for himself and his son, Bram.  He applied for the visa because he felt that America was the only country in the world that could provide him with hope, safety and freedom.

He was right. His visa was denied, He chose not to try to come here as an illegal immigrant. Oh do I wish he had. Marcel and his son  were murdered in Auschwitz on August 13, 1943, ten months later.

If only he had tried to get here as an illegal immigrant-he might not have succeeded, but if he had been successful he would’ve lived. There was no one else or place to go.

Marcel was my grandfather and Bram my uncle.

Americans should never forget why people come here, sometimes legally, sometimes not, but millions have come. They came because America represented opportunity, safety and goodness,  in a world that was neither good nor safe. We represent that wonderful experiment called democracy, where we make room for all and provide safety and opportunity for all who come here. Without those immigrants we would be nothing.

We are not perfect as a society. We have a long way to go, but we can and must continue to work towards those lofty goals we believe in.

When we crush those dreams; when we close our borders to those in need; when we forget where we came from and where we want to go;  then we will lose our place in the world, than our experiment will have failed. We cannot let that happen. As a people we are too good for that.

There are times when good people must stand up regardless of the consequences. JFK’s Profile in Courage comes to mind.

This is one of those times.  

Marcel Groen

 

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And my Vote goes to…

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MY CHOICE FOR PRESIDENT IS…

As the Democratic National Convention gets underway, we know one thing for sure. November will be historic.  The citizens of America will either elect a businessman from New York, a man with no formal experience in politics or, for the first time in the nation’s history, a woman as President of the United States.  There have been times in the past when the candidates of one of the parties was somewhat more obscure, or at the very least less high-profile, but this year without question, name recognition is not an issue. Everyone knows who Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are?  Or do they?

I don’t want to use this forum as a means of showing my support for one candidate by trashing the other, but in this election the majority of voters are at least somewhat impacted by that which they do not like about the other.  It’s very much about spin.  Take the most extreme supporter on either side and there is nothing the opposing candidate can do that will be seen as OK.  However, there is one glaring difference in my estimation. We can at least claim to know the worst there is to know about Hillary.  But what about Trump?  Somehow people have come to believe that a millionaire businessman, the owner of hotels, private jets and helicopters, is somehow a regular guy, a man of the people. They look at me with a straight face and say they won’t vote for Hillary because she is a liar or corrupt.They actually allow themselves to believe that Donald Trump has gotten to where he is out of sheer brilliance and hard work.  I won’t sit here and prosecute the case against him, but really?  If you believe that I have a great university you should attend. It will make you rich.

I know the criticisms against Hillary and I will openly admit that I don’t like everything about her, but do I have a far greater amount of confidence in her ability to lead this country in the right direction than Donald Trump?  Without question I do.  Was Benghazi a tragedy?  Of course it was.  Could things have been handled better? Maybe, probably, I don’t know. But I do know that under George W. Bush 13 embassies were attacked and 60 people were killed.  We’re America. We are hated by those who want to take what we have or change who we are.  We are targets and will remain targets as long as there is evil in the world.

I don’t like the Iran deal.  Never have, likely never will.  But even if I am to see it as a total attack on Israel, which I don’t necessarily do, I see it as President Obama’s deal not Hillary Clinton’s.  To say a Secretary of State is wrong for working towards the goals of her boss doesn’t make him or her complicit in the outcome of the goal, good or bad.  It makes them a loyal servant to the Commander in Chief.  I am also comfortable to go on record and say that in areas I disagree with the president, I believe him to be more someone trying to save the world, sometimes naively, rather than someone trying to bring anyone, including Israel, destruction.

Emails? Sorry. I am not even going to make a case as to why this is not enough reason for me to vote for Donald Trump over Hillary.

People say that Donald Trump is preying on the fears of the people.  That is partially true. Sadly I believe he is also exposing the stupidity of many.  I would never say that all people voting for Trump are stupid, many are highly intelligent, but I do believe he is counting on the vote of those that are stupid. If Hollywood made a movie, and the day after the Democratic National Convention started the Republican nominee’s best response to what he saw was calling the Democratic nominee Hillary “ROTTEN” Clinton, people would have assumed we were watching a Mel Brooks satire.  But no, this really happened, and it happened from someone people still take seriously.  Someone who made fun of Carly Fiorina’s face, likened Ben Carson to a child molester, called his opponents names like Little Marco and Lyin Ted, mocked a handicapped person, called Mexicans rapists, called for a ban of an entire religion, said John Mccain wasn’t a war  hero because he got caught, and yes, even spoke about the size of his penis. This man is somehow considered to be more qualified than Hillary Clinton?  Really?

As a Jewish man and a Zionist I say this.  Many reading this see history and see Roosevelt and Churchill as great men.  I won’t sit here and necessarily challenge that.  Had they not led the world to victory against Adolph Hitler it is possible that western civilization as we know it would not exist and all we know as Jews would be gone.  But before we judge people on a standard of perfection, or even good or bad, ask yourself how many Jews might have been saved had they destroyed the railroad tracks leading to Auschwitz and other concentration camps.  If FOX News were around then, FDR might have been held accountable to the point of prosecution, Thomas Dewey might have been elected, and Harry Truman would never have become president.  Who knows how World War II would have ended?  I am not saying FDR and Churchill were perfect or the biggest fans of the Jewish people, but their jobs were to be leaders of the US and Great Britain, and that they were, in exceptional manners.  We have every right to demand our leaders don’t hurt our cause, but we also must realize we are electing a President of the United States, not a president of the Jewish people, and we must therefore expect that president to do what they deem best for the country.  Furthermore, before Jewish supporters get all excited about a Trump presidency merely because his daughter converted and he speaks harshly about Muslims, keep these 2 things in mind.  When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Trump for his anti-Muslim rhetoric Trump punished him by cancelling his trip to Israel.  Also keep in mind how Trump plans to reconsider aide to our allies, including Israel.

The point is, no matter who you are or where you come from, whatever good you believe you are hearing about Donald Trump, he’s only telling you to get your vote.  Yes, you can say that about all politicians, but don’t tell me how different Donald Trump is from the establishment.  He funded the establishment, including the Clintons, for decades.

I don’t buy into the fact that a Hillary Clinton presidency will be 4 more years of an Obama presidency.  If anything I believe it is more likely to be closer to being 4 more years of a Bill Clinton presidency, and that would be just fine by me.  I honestly don’t know how good of a president Hillary would be, but I feel that her demeanor, her experience and her intellect is enough to make me very comfortable in giving her my vote.  I think her choice of Tim Kaine already shows she is making choices based on her agenda as opposed to the demands of others.  I think she is ready to be president today, as opposed to her candidate who will never be ready to be president.  Besides the fact that I’ve always been offended by the implication that America isn’t great, merely for the benefit of a slogan, I also know that Donald Trump couldn’t even make Atlantic City great again.

I know that many reading this find it hard to believe that I, someone who has always been so outspoken about the security of Israel could support Clinton over Trump, but guess what?  I find it hard to believe that you don’t.  You might be able to legitimately raise questions about her, but to me that doesn’t mean voting for Trump, someone who repeatedly shows signs of being a global menace.  I’ve seen and heard enough bad from Trump to not vote for him while seeing enough good to vote for Hillary, and that is what I intend to do.  What good you ask?  In this political climate don’t count on answer, because most people asking won’t accept my answer anyway.  You vote your conscience and I’ll vote mine and I’ll accept you for your choice whether you return the favor or not.  After all, that’s the American way.

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One Person of Integrity can make a Difference

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“One person of integrity can make a difference” is a quote from the late Elie Wiesel who departed this world yesterday at the age of 87.  This is a man who had every right to say these words, because in his strength, survival and life, it is nearly impossible to find anyone who made such an enormous difference with strength and integrity of enormous proportions.

We all know the story of the plight of the Jewish people during Hitler’s rule.  6 million Jews were killed in numerous concentration and death camps set up primarily to solve what the Nazis saw as the Jewish problem.  The most notorious of all the camps, the camp that symbolized the horrors committed during this time was Auschwitz.  One estimate is that 1.1 million of Jewish victims of the Holocaust were  murdered in Auschwitz.  Although most people who ended up there never left, there was a small percentage that did survive, and although for many the horror was too great to relive, there were those who would tell their story.  No one did so with greater skill, honor and integrity than Elie Wiesel.

Ever since his death I have thought a lot about what it was that made Elie Wiesel great. People are often thrust into difficult even horrific circumstances.  To survive as a functioning decent member of society is, in itself heroic, but to tell the story and make it a cause is taking that heroism to another level.  In 1944 at the age of 15, Wiesel was taken by the Nazis from his home in Romania with his family and deported to the camps in Poland. His mother and a sister were killed in Auschwitz and his father was murdered in Buchenwald a few weeks before its liberation.  To be there when that happened, to lose one’s parents and a younger sister in so short of a time would already be enough to destroy anyone’s spirit, not to mention the countless horrors he witnessed during his stay in both Auschwitz and Buchenwald.  Rather than let his spirit be crushed, Wiesel came out of this horror of all horrors with a resolve and strength of character unparalleled.

 “Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed….Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.”
Elie Wiesel, Night

It is my contention that not only do Jews everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to Elie Wiesel, but so do good and decent people of all faiths.  History books tell the story of the Holocaust, but nothing can ever do so with the power and purpose of someone who was there, experienced humanity in its darkest moments, and in their survival remained committed to letting the world know, all in the hope that somehow it could prevent humanity from ever doing anything like that again. Elie Wiesel did all of that, and he did so with a dignity unfathomable.   This man who was almost killed as a teenage boy, went on to live a life that will keep his spirit alive forever.

“For in the end, it is all about memory, its sources and its magnitude, and, of course, its consequences.”
Elie Wiesel, Night

I found an ironic symmetry yesterday as Elie Wiesel passed away at 87 just hours before sunset and the beginning of the day on the Jewish calendar commemorating the day in which my father, also a Holocaust survivor also passed away at the age of 87.  The education I received from both my parents, both survivors, always made me aware and knowledgeable of what took place during that time that everyone would hope to forget but are obligated to remember.  With that in mind I leave you with this one last quote from the great Elie Wiesel of Blessed Memory.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

Rest in Peace Mr. Wiesel and thank you. I will try to never be indifferent.

 

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A Jewish Leader Tells the Whole World…NEVER AGAIN

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I started this piece numerous times and when all was said and done I decided to just sit back and write it entirely from the heart.  After just listening to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress I am so overcome by emotion that I want to hold on to this moment, even if only for myself.

Part of what makes us who we are is our history.  Having just finished listening to the speech I can’t help but think of my family’s history.  It was 60 years ago when the reign of Hitler’s Nazi party ended.  60 million people died in WWII and 6 million Jewish souls were lost.  Among those murdered by the Nazis was an estimated 104,000 Dutch Jews, 75% of Holland’s Jewish population in 1940. Included in that number were 3 of my 4 grandparents, an aunt and uncle, and numerous other relatives I would never know.  My parents went through life with pain I can’t even imagine having lived through one of the darkest times in the world’s history.

As far back as I can remember I have heard the words “Never Again”.  Today I watched Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who suffered in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, receive a standing ovation in the United States Congress.  Today the leader of the Jewish state of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, stood up in front of the nation and the entire world and basically said NEVER AGAIN with the words “The days in which the Jewish people stay passive in the face of genocidal enemies; those days are over”.

This is only about politics to those making it about politics.  What this is ultimately about is the survival of not only the Jewish people but the survival of our modern-day civilization.  Today a Jewish leader stood up in front of the world and told the world that the Jewish people will never again be led to slaughter.  For that reason, as the son of Holocaust survivors, as a Jew, and as an American, I found myself moved to tears and say thank you to the State of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

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Freedom: Not a Religious Concept

mosesEvery year as Passover approaches I find myself intrigued by how many Jewish people, even those relatively uninvolved in religious observance, put importance on some form of celebration of the holiday.  Seeing as it is a holiday that begins with sitting around a table with friends and family, telling a story and eating, naturally it is partially due to how uncomplicated and potentially enjoyable this form of observance can actually be.  However, when thinking about it this year I came to an entirely different and much deeper explanation.  The attraction to Passover is that it has very little to do with religion.  Passover transcends religion, inasmuch as it about something not provided by religion.  That would be the basic theme of Passover, the importance of freedom.

We live in an increasingly complex society.  People consider freedom to manifest itself in issues once not even considered important to humankind.  In the United States, freedom now has become connected to lifestyle choices, possession of weapons, and how to treat your body.  In Muslim populations, as well as ultra-religious communities everywhere, levels of freedom are often gender based, men are often provided with freedoms women are not provided with, and when not are based on first accepting the basic rules of the community.    In more progressive, liberal environments, freedom is expressed by the decriminalization of things like drugs and prostitution.  And in some parts of the world, freedom is still about the basic right to survive and live as the person you were born to be, without restriction from governments or dictators.

Freedom has always been the ultimate weapon.  Take away someone’s freedom and the belief is that you have the ultimate control over what they do.  It is the primary and justified complaint against religious leadership.  The belief that impacting someone’s freedom because your belief system considers their personal choices to be wrong for society and the individual, sets up a scenario where people do exactly what is expected of them.  Ironically it takes away from the freedom given by God that is very possibly the most important freedom that exists. The freedom of choice.

The truth is that no one can take that freedom away from any man or woman ever.   The consequences may be dire, but the freedom remains.  My grandparents, when presented with the option to accept Baptismal papers in 1943 Amsterdam, refused to accept them.  Everyone, including them, knew their chances survival would be greater had they accepted them, but they made the ultimate sacrifice in choosing the freedom to live as Jews and subsequently die as Jews by refusing the papers.  They let no man take away their freedom to be Jews, even though it resulted in them being murdered in Auschwitz.

The lesson to be learned is that what makes Passover so attractive is that it is truly about freedom.  A freedom that no government, religious institution, or random individual can ever take from any of us.  That freedom is the freedom of choice.    And the reason no man can ever take it away from us is because it is a freedom given to us by God.  Where religions and governments have failed all over the world is in their unwillingness to take second place to man’s freedom to decide for how he wishes to live his life. A freedom no one can ever take away and a freedom and a concept far greater than religious observance, for it is a freedom given directly to man by God.  That is a freedom all men and women share equally, and the expression of that is part of what makes the celebration of Passover so attractive to so many.

Happy Passover to all who celebrate, and to those who do not, in the theme of the day I wish you a life filled with true freedom.