Tag Archives: Williamsburg

A special day in Williamsburg that once again highlighted the importance of Bram’s violin

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My Uncle Bram Rodrugues, killed at the age of 18 in Auschwitz in 1943

As we continue to combine the story of a horrific time with a story that inspires on the highest level, it becomes more and more of an honor to be an avenue from whence this story is told.

On Sunday February 16, 2020, the violin that belonged to my Uncle Bram, a victim of the Holocaust, was played for the second time.  This time in Williamsburg, Virginia.  As the story gets more traction and the violin is shown and played for more people, the importance of what we are doing becomes more and more evident.  By inspiring people with music played from the violin, and telling the story of how the violin made it back to me and my family, we are doing our part in restoring people’s faith in humanity.

Williamsburg is a wonderful town.  In the few days I was there I was exposed to wonderful people who extended their hospitality, generosity and kindness.  The genuine interest in this story made everything about the trip worthwhile, even before the concert showcasing the violin ever took place. Yes anti-Semitism is on the rise and yes Holocaust denial is a very real problem, but for a few days in a small yet significant town in Virginia, my belief that we are closer to a good world than many might usually believe significantly increased.

As I spoke to the crowd, a crowd likely reaching close to 200 people, moments before the violin was played in a solo by the brilliant Ken Sarch, I saw the expressions on the people’s faces.  The people in the crowd, of which only a small percentage were Jewish, were not only engaged and interested, they were moved, saddened and inspired.  At times many would nod their heads in agreement to the points I would make about the importance of not only this specific story, but the importance of telling the world what took place in Europe between 1933 and 1945.

After the event one man told me how his father was German and was 16 when the war ended, and how he was ashamed of his German background, almost in tears when telling me.  One man who purchased the  book asked me to not make out the inscription to any one individual but to make it out to all the  good people of the world. I saw people in tears when I told the story, knowing that in some way they were understanding the devastation that took place in a way they had never been able to do prior to this day.

For me the most powerful moment of the day came following my presentation of the story when Ken took out the violin and played the music from Schindler’s list.  At the time he was doing this I looked out into the crowd to see how the people were reacting.  Throughout the crowd I saw intense emotion, tears and expressions of awe and inspiration, and as I saw this I not only thought of my uncle, I thought of my mother.  I often say that when my mother talked of the  war she was always sad.  When she spoke of her brother she always cried.  His death represented the horrors of the time, and as her son who loved her as all of her children did and still do, I feel an enormous responsibility in getting this right.  What I saw in  Williamsburg is that by just telling the story with honesty and passion, and having Bram’s violin played, the good people out there assure that this is being done right, for they not only observe it, they feel it as well.

I thank the people of Williamsburg for making this more than just a concert.  In their genuine and powerful collective show of emotion they showed me one more example of the goodness in humanity, and they showed me why more and more people need to get the same opportunity to be witness to something so powerful and important.

 

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Why is shock important?

When writing a book about a time so significant and devastating to the Jewish people, one has a moral responsibility to acknowledge and honor those who perished from the brutality and suffered the horrors perpetuated by one of the most, if not the most evil governments in the history of civilization.  On the surface this seems to be an uncomplicated task, but when confronted with decisions on how to present the story, one must use their own judgment in choosing the means that best accomplish the goals set out in putting pen to paper.

Once on a visit to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I made the comment that although I live my life almost entirely different than the Hasidic Jews that live there, I love going there because when I walk through the neighborhood I realize that with all the death and destruction Hitler orchestrated against the Jewish people, in the end he did not win.  Nazi Germany is long gone and the specific threat that it posed to the very existence of the Jewish people no longer exists, but the war of the anti-Semite against the Jewish people has not ended and still needs to be fought.  The attempt at intellectualizing Holocaust denial and the efforts by those who wish to accomplish this on a global scale threatens the Jewish people in a deceptive and methodic way.  Little by little there is a danger that more and more people will choose to believe that it did not happen and that 6 million Jewish lives were not killed by Hitler’s Germany.  In writing this book, and titling it “Jew Face”, even at the risk of offending some of my fellow Jews, I do so with the purpose of getting the attention of as many people as possible.  The alarming title will startle people, but if it gets many to read what happened and be aware, then it has served a positive purpose.

You can’t fight fire with smoke.  You must fight fire with fire.  And if giving this book a title that shocks people and makes them interested in its content I increase awareness of what truly took place, I have been successful in accomplishing the book’s most important task.  Honoring the victims and helping the world never forget what took place.