Tag Archives: slavery

This year Passover incorporates past, present and future like never before

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As I write this, Passover has  already begun for my friends and family in Europe and Israel.  For those of us in the Americas, as we prepare to start the holiday and for the majority who will have a Seder like never before, I want to offer the following message of hope and encouragement.

In my years of celebrating the holiday, even when I was most focused, I admittedly would remember the past, acknowledge the present, and talk about the future.  But this  year the biggest difference for me is that we look at everything through a different lens.

As we look to the past, we will recount the story of the Jewish people being slaves in Egypt and the suffering of the Jewish people throughout the ages, most notably for so many of us, the suffering of the Holocaust.  As human nature is prone to cause us to do, this year we find more parallels between our lives and the past suffering as ever before. That doesn’t automatically mean we are correct in drawing that parallel, but to many the death and illness, coupled with the fact that we need to stay home to avoid a plague of sorts, is enough for many to see it in that light.

Our present, which is indeed connected to the past perspective, is given more focused attention than it usually is on any given Passover.  Usually Passover is a break or pause from how we conduct our every day lives, be it through changing the dietary laws, altering our work schedule, or spending time with more friends and family.  This year however, it is merely a break of a few hours over the course of a matter of a few days, as so many will be conducting their lives when the holiday is over in a very similar way to how they will conduct it over Passover. At home and, at least for the time being, adjusting to a very different normal.

However, it is my belief that the biggest difference comes in how we see the future.  Not just in practical terms but for those of us who are so inclined, in religious or spiritual terms.  For the majority of us, talking about how this year we are slaves and next year will be free, was an important yet disconnected part of our Seder in past years.  Maybe our lives haven’t always been everything we wanted,  having never truly questioned our freedom, but we have never been more appreciative of that freedom as we are today.  We look at our restrictions today and wonder if they will increase or diminish.  We question if the future holds more significant amounts of pain and suffering than we’ve already experienced.  And we question whether or not the world will become a place for all of humanity to exist in peace, freedom and love.

The answer is a simple yet complex one.  We just do not know what the future holds. But to paraphrase my father of blessed memory, we are better off not knowing the future, because inevitably we learn things we rather not know. Here is what we do know.  If we have the physical or mental capacity to do so, we can make our world better not just for ourselves but for those around us.  Acts of kindness, patience and understanding are more than just catch phrases.  They help to form that future we so dearly will look to at our Seders.  But as long as we can do something to make a difference, even in one person’s life, then we always can be hopeful for a better future.

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy Passover.

A Positive Perspective on a Seder Alone

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Open Letter to Carl Maziali, VP of Media Relations at USC Regarding his acceptance of a faculty member’s mockery of the Holocaust

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Dear Mr. Maziali,

I find it hard to believe that I even have to write a letter of this nature to the Vice President of Media Relations of an established and respected university.  I’ve heard many anti-Semites spew their filth the direction of my people, so when an Iranian mocks the murder of 6 million Jews I’m no longer surprised, but when a representative of an institution such as USC excuses and sanctions his behavior I realize our society has reached new lows.  I also believe someone has to answer for it and be held accountable.

I am referring to the professor in your school by the name of Alireza Tabatabaeenejad, who in a series of tweets made it very clear what he thinks about the Holocaust. It all started when Professor Tababajabadahut defended Iran’s Holocaust denial cartoon contest by asking what is anti-moderation about holding such a contest.

It went on further when Tabababumble was confronted by Noah Pollak, Executive Director, Emergency Committee for Israel on twitter:

@alirezat I mean, do you think a million were killed, or around 6 million, or in between? Just curious as to how you think about it

@NoahPollak I really don’t know. I should read about it. Why?

@alirezat bad analogy. This wasn’t a murder. It was a genocide carried out in the name of anti-Semitism. Try again.

@NoahPollak Logically, I cannot say “antisemitism” and “denial of the Holocaust” are necessarily equivalent.

 

For me to address Tababuthead’s comments would be giving him more credibility than he deserves  and it would imply that I think you need me to make you aware of the despicable nature of his comments, which I am sure you don’t.  Your response when confronted on his comments was, “professors can say whatever they want.”  Interesting.  So does that mean it would be acceptable in your opinion for a professor to say something along the lines of slavery was no big deal, or all people who get AIDS deserve it? Since you are not debating the morality and ethics of the comment, merely the professors’ right to say “whatever they want“, one can only infer comments such as these would also be acceptable under your interpretation of USC’s guidelines.

Your approach is a disgrace, and to make it seem as though you are hiding behind some sort of free speech concept is cowardly and weak.  USC is not a government institution, it has rules, and these rules need to be enforced, regardless of whether or not you personally like Jews.

This needs to be addressed and corrected or brought to the attention of as many people as possible.  That choice may very well be yours to make.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Open Letter to Ron Jones regarding BBC’s The Big Questions’ tweet:”Is it time to lay the Holocaust to rest?”

 

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Dear Mr. Jones,

“Is it time to lay the Holocaust to rest?”  I would say “good question”, but in truth it is not a good question.  It is not a wise question, nor a sincere question.  It is a question that exhibits ignorance and hate and lack of understanding of the world as it is meant to be.

I do not know what connection you or your personal viewpoints have to this question tweeted by BBC’s;The Big Questions, but since it is produced by Mentorn Media and you are the Executive Chairman, it is you I will address regarding this matter.

Naturally, as a Jew, I am beyond offended.  I am only in my 50s, so the fact that I never knew my grandparents nor my mother’s only brother and my father’s younger sister, should already indicate that this is not ancient history we are talking about.  To be frank, even if it was ancient history I would find this question offensive.  Should we put Passover to rest as well while we’re at it?  After all, it WAS only Jews who were slaves in Egypt.

6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.  To make it easier for the small-minded people at the BBC to comprehend, that is the equivalent to filling up Wembley Stadium 66 times.  The question is not an example of enlightenment through journalism, rather an irresponsible, ignorant, and quite honestly a disgraceful opening for a discussion that should not even be considered in the civilized world.

The very question is not much different from blatant Holocaust denial, a media tool perpetuated most significantly by the Iranian government, a regime that has expressed its desire to wipe Israel off the map, a process that would lead to almost the same amount of Jewish deaths.  The question might as well be, “is it time to get rid of the Jews?”

Even from a non-Jewish perspective the question is offensive.  It’s not as though we live in a world without evil.  We still see people getting tortured, persecuted and murdered.  Is it time to put slavery to rest?  How about the Cambodian genocide? Or the Armenian genocide? For that matter we might as well put the Rwandan genocide to rest as well.  After all, we would hate to get in the way of BBC’s quest for enlightenment.

Even without putting the Holocaust to rest the Jewish people face threats and challenges.  If we put the Holocaust to rest it will lead to those acting as though it never happened, empowering those that wish to see it happen all over again.  We as a person are not prepared to let that happen and nothing a staunchly Arab-influenced BBC does will change our resolve.

NEVER AGAIN is the motto many of us live by, and that is exactly the opposite of putting the Holocaust to rest.  Get over it.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Passover, slavery, and freedom