As we approach Yom HaShoah and remember the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, I can’t help but think about how being the son of 2 survivors helped make me into the person I am today.
In comparison to so many, I am a very lucky man. I enjoyed having both my parents around till I was 45 when my 87 year old father passed away almost 8 years ago, and still have the blessing of a wonderful relationship with my remarkable 93 year old mother. Although they experienced their own brand of hell between 1940-1945 in Holland, they were fortunate enough that it did not reach a level that prevented them from moving forward and enjoying their life after the war. Even with that said, the experiences of my parents made them who they are, which subsequently made me who I am, both for good and for bad. But more significantly as I write this today, a day in which we remember those who did not survive, the deep emotions transferred to me and my siblings impacted every one of us.
Even when I was more moderate than I am today, I’ve never had tolerance for anything that resembled a lack of respect for Jewish life. Of course as a normal human being I value all life, but I am always on the alert for any indication that the Jewish people are being attacked. I won’t listen to Pink Floyd or Bryan Adams anymore. I don’t like Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs merely because he once did the quenelle, a modern-day reverse Nazi salute in France, in a picture with a well-known anti-Semite even though he insisted he didn’t mean it to be anti-Semitic, and I almost got into a fight with someone at work who did the Nazi salute because he thought he was being funny. He said he didn’t realize what it meant till his girlfriend told him later in the day. That didn’t stop me from standing in his face and saying “never do that S#%#%t in front of me again.”
Don’t get me wrong. I make no claims to be a tough guy, but my Dad of Blessed Memory was as tough as anyone, and my mother is one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. I was raised by strong people who brought me up to be proud to be Jewish, and most relevant in this discussion, they always honored the 6 million. As long as I can remember and as long as I was able to have a conversation I always knew about the 6 million Jews murdered by Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany. And I have always tried my personal best to honor them.
Never Again, a phrase that often stems from or leads to political discussion may be 2 of the most important words in my life, as I am sure it is to many reading this as well. However today is not about politics, it is about remembrance and honor. Something I learned from my parents, and thank them for from the bottom of my heart, for in the process they made me a better person, one that often stops and realizes the Jewish souls once sacrificed, and the importance of never forgetting them.
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