Posts Tagged ‘Jewish studies’

Last week my half-brother Brian was buried in Germany. He was laid to rest on Yom Ha’Shoah, the day Israel honors the victims of the Holocaust. Unlike the rest of the world, surviving European Jewish people were living with the grief of their systematic slaughter by Nazis every day and every night after WWII. It was a nightmare that came true with each new dawn. So they chose a different way to remember this evil; not by calling it International Remembrance Day, on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, but by placing it on the Jewish calendar, in the month of Nisan, a week after Passover.

“Holocaust and Heorism Remembrance Day” was chosen to commemorate, to honor the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Since the early 1960’s, the sound of a siren on Yom Hashoah stops traffic and pedestrians throughout the State of Israel for two minutes of silent devotion. The siren blows at sundown and once again at 11:00 A.M. on this date. All radio and television programs during this day are connected in one way or another with the Jewish destiny in World War II, including personal interviews with survivors. Even the musical programs are adapted to the atmosphere of Yom Hashoah. There is no public entertainment on Yom Hashoah, as theaters, cinemas, pubs, and other public venues are closed throughout Israel.

My brother Brian married a wonderful German woman, Hildegarde. He adopted her family as his own, and although I know nothing about her, I can assume she was touched by the War. Was her first husband or father killed for resisting, or were they collaborators? I know she loved my brother very much, and that she was an excellent cook. She never really learned to speak English so that the two times I met her, I had the feeling she understood more than she could say. I never visited them in Germany primarily because Bob had no wish to go there.

Brian was almost 20 years older than the Flapper’s sixth child (me). Even if our family hadn’t been torn apart in our Year of Living Dangerously, I probably would not have known him well. But he was the one who got me to question the Catholic Church, because I have a vague memory of him asking me if I thought it was fair that only Catholics went to heaven. When my widowed Mother married a Jew, my status as a lapsed Catholic was complete at age 16. Remember, at that age we think we know everything, and certainly I did. But my ideas about faith, redemption and heaven have changed over the years.

This morning I was reminded that a great theologian left the safety and security of the US to return to Germany. Seventy years ago In April, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged by the Nazis at a concentration camp. He was a Lutheran pastor, a Nazi dissident and a true Christian martyr – a spy for the German resistance. A pacifist at heart, he nonetheless helped plot to kill Hitler, while the other Christian churches had opted to collaborate with his evil plan.

And I wondered what would I do. Would I have sent my children off to Hitler youth meetings? Of course not, we would have been rounded up and sent to our deaths. I like to think that church and state should forever be separate, but at that time of pure evil, should we not have seen more morally righteous pastors standing up for the Jews, the handicapped and homosexuals? What did they preach on their pulpits?

When evil looms, what would you do? CCIytTJWIAAUV78

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