Tag Archives: Sephardic

Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg regarding Facebook’s banning of the Holocaust movie, “Beautiful Blue Eyes”

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

Although I have not directly heard your feelings on the subject that I am about to address, seeing as you hold the ultimate responsibility for what takes place on Facebook, it is of critical importance that I reach out to you.  I am referring to the sitewide banning of the movie “Beautiful Blue Eyes” from every aspect of Facebook. https://www.rollingstone.com/tv-movies/tv-movie-news/facebook-holocaust-film-race-policy-1234592908/

I could start by saying that I have no personal stake in the success of this movie, but that would not be entirely true. You see Mr. Zuckerberg, not only do I have a stake in it, you do as well.  I do not know you, so I do not claim to know how you feel about your connection to the past, but I do know you are a Jewish man who has never hidden from that fact.  It must be understood that the survival of the Jewish people will always be connected to acknowledging and remembering our persecution. So I ask you, does the future of the Jewish people mean anything to you? Or are the policies of Facebook so out of touch with reality and are you so detached from the operations of this giant you created that we are subjected to this ignorant and highly detrimental stance?

My personal issues towards this matter can be best explained by telling you a little bit about my background.  I am the son of Holocaust survivors, and the importance of this and how it relates to me personally is not by any means exaggerated.  When I see Facebook banishing a movie with the title “Beautiful Blue Eyes” because as the ruling states, it violates the policy against content that “includes direct or indirect assertions or implications about a person’s race,” knowing a little what the movie is about, I am in utter shock and disbelief.  The title of the story is based on someone who is part of the story, someone with blue eyes, who was murdered by the Nazis.  As someone whose father had eyes the color of a blue ocean, knowing that both his parents and younger sister were also murdered by the Nazis, it’s hard to imagine one of the 3, if not all of them, not having blue eyes. And had my father not been blessed to survive, his blue eyes would not have stopped the Nazis from murdering him as well. 

But the stronger message here may come from relating to the story of my mother and her side of the family.  Whether Facebook chooses to acknowledge this or not, the Nazis often identified their victims, particularly their Jewish victims, from their physical appearance.  This was as evident in the Netherlands as anywhere else. My mother, born in Amsterdam and of Sephardic Jewish descent, looked different than most Dutch people at that time.  My father, who had red hair and blue eyes, could, for all intents and purposes, hide in plain sight.  My mother, with dark hair, brown eyes, and a darker complexion, immediately was recognized as being Jewish.  It was only through the help of my father who worked with the resistance, and the hand of God, that my mother survived.  But sadly, her father and brother, with similar physical attributes were taken to Auschwitz and murdered. The importance of my mother’s appearance was so significant and so important in understanding what took place that I even named the book in which I chronicle their 5 years in Holland during the Nazi Occupation, as “Jew Face”. https://hollandsheroes.com/general-book-information/ And just like “Beautiful Blue Eyes”, the title was based partly on a character in the book, my mother, and partly on an incident that took place.

As someone who is proud to be Jewish and forever cognizant of the past, present, and likely future threats we will always face, my reasoning for calling the book “Jew Face” was clearly not a racist or bigoted attack on, of all people, my fellow Jews.  Maybe the point can best be made clear to you and anyone who may choose to bury their head in the sands of Woke Beach, by sharing the following anecdote.

After the publishing of my book, close to 5 years after my father’s passing, my mother would occasionally speak to various institutions about her experiences during those horrific times.  She would often use the book as a guide in telling the story, and when on one occasion she informed the audience of its title, “Jew Face”, a woman commented to her that, “this is an ugly title for a book”.  My mother’s immediate and instinctive response was, “it was an ugly time”.  Maybe this is what you and the people who work for you are not comprehending.  Sometimes to make a point, a point that can ultimately promote love and understanding and even save lives, you need to say and do harsh things.  To avoid this in the name of equality or standards is at best shortsighted and divisive, at worst it is out and out dangerous.  In fact, this application that states it violates the policy against content that “includes direct or indirect assertions or implications about a person’s race,” is so out of touch with the reality, it is closer to Holocaust denial than it is to enforcement of a ruling in the name of the common good.

I urge you to look at this situation with a broader and more educated perspective and realize that decisions such as these are counterproductive to what you claim to be important.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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Congressional Tribute to Nardus Groen


[Congressional Record Volume 153, Number 112 
(Friday, July 13, 2007)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1512]
From the Congressional Record Online through the 
Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                     TRIBUTE TO 
                 RABBI NARDUS GROEN

                      ______

                            HON. JOE SESTAK

                            of pennsylvania

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, July 12, 2007

  Mr. SESTAK. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize and honor the 
life of a husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, 
son, veteran, and community leader--Rabbi Nardus Groen, who passed away 
on Wednesday, June 13 after living a full life of community service.
  Rabbi Nardus Groen was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on 
December 18, 1919 and grew to become a hero and a family man. As a 
member of the Dutch Underground during World War II, Rabbi Groen was 
captured by German soldiers multiple times and heroically managed to 
escape each time. One particular act of heroism occurred in 1940 when 
Groen was guarding a Jewish hospital in the Netherlands during its 
evacuation. Although the patients had escaped, Groen was protecting a 
group of Jewish nurses as the Nazis approached. Selflessly, he slipped 
on a Red Cross arm band and escorted the nurses into a room. When the 
Nazis asked who was in the room, Groen explained that he was caring for 
patients with Scarlet Fever. Fearing the illness, the Nazis spared the 
Jewish nurses, including Groen's future wife, the former Sipora 
Rodriguez-Lopes.
  After World War II, Rabbi Nardus Groen served at Camp Lejeune, North 
Carolina under the American Marine Corps. Following his stint with the 
Marines, Groen worked as a psychologist at a Jewish orphanage for 
Holocaust survivors. He helped countless youths cope with one of the 
greatest tragedies in human history. Two years later, he began to serve 
as a rabbi at the oldest congregation in the Western Hemisphere in 
Surinam. Groen led a mixed Sephardic Ashkenazic congregation in Surinam 
until 1952 when he served as a rabbi in Einhoven, the Netherlands. He 
became one of the foremost leaders of his community, uniting two 
different cultures in one synagogue.
  Nardus Groen moved to Lansdale, PA as a renowned rabbi in 1963 where 
he served as Beth Israel Synagogue's rabbi for 13 years. He provided 
guidance and spiritual leadership to Beth Israel's community, helping 
his community grow to the vibrant Jewish center it is today. Groen 
moved back to Europe and retired in 1986 as the chief rabbi for the 
eastern six provinces of the Netherlands. He lived what he preached and 
will be remembered across the Netherlands.
  After his retirement, Rabbi Groen and his loving wife Sipora lived in 
the Netherlands and Delray Beach, Florida after his retirement before 
permanently settling in Florida in 2005. Rabbi Groen spent his last 
years as a loving father to Marcel Groen, Leo Groen, Ruben Groen, David 
Groen, and Debra Groen; a loving brother to Meyers Groen and Sophia 
Groen; a loving grandfather and great grandfather to twelve 
grandchildren and six great grandchildren; and a loving husband to 
Sipora Groen.
  Madam Speaker, I ask you to join me in honoring and remembering Rabbi 
Nardus Groen. Through his hard work, Rabbi Groen has spread hope across 
three continents and will be remembered as a strong leader, a caring 
mentor, and a true mensch.