Are you as heartsick and fearful as I am about the front-page news?
Do you wonder where the next decade will take our world?
Do you question what our grandkids will be facing in their future?
Is this what pre-WWII Europe was like?
If you have an answer to any of these questions, please write me and express your thoughts because I am afraid it’s what my kids and grandkids think is the new normal and I want to reassure them that we are better than what the current headlines are shouting.
As baby boomers, we are the first generation to grow up with those who have the stories of our loved ones who escaped the Nazis, fought in the trenches of Europe or the Pacific or were stateside awaiting news from those in the throes of terror.
We may have been too young to get the full gist of what our elders were talking about, and for many of us, as they spoke in Yiddish and we entered a room, often we heard, “Sha! The kinder!” And the subject and language would change. But as we got older, bits and pieces of the years past, formed some kind of reality as to what our families experienced.
There are many, many people who fought the war and never talked about it. Never painted a picture from their minds about what they saw. Never described what the enemy looked like. Never shouted what a bombing sounded like. Never portrayed the aftermath of killings. Never gave us a whiff of the smell of death and destruction. Never shared the sensation of War. Some have gone to their graves keeping those experiences locked and secured within their souls so others would never know.
But we have also grown up with an expression, “So we don’t forget.” Meaning, we MUST tell the others, the younger ones, what we don’t want to have happen ever again. If they know the past, they will fight—hopefully, in different ways—to prevent the past.
WE CANNOT REPEAT THE PAST! WE CANNOT ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN AGAIN!
We are better than this. We are better than the past. We HAVE learned from the past. Haven’t we?
The echoes of anti-semitism is the greatest I have experienced in my life-time. I really don’t know what to do with it. Luckily, I have not had a personal encounter with a Jew-hater so I don’t know what to say to my teen-age grandkids. How do we prepare them? They live in privileged communities and must feel, like me, that we are safe in our surroundings. But are we?
I never leave my house without wearing a Jewish star, never! I don’t know what I would do if someone noticed it and approached me with anti-semitic rhetoric. I am going to Paris and Amsterdam this summer and I have had a passing thought not to wear my star or chai, only a very passing thought, because I won’t let the haters win. But I will be with two of my granddaughters and wanting them to be safe at all times is paramount. I can’t believe that in 2019, I am worrying about this!
What I do feel, is that our current president is not keeping us protected. His rhetoric is not reassuring that he backs our safety, at home or abroad. I do believe his lack of condemnation to the haters helps to promote their beliefs and actions. He has a pulpit as the leader of the free-world to send strong denunciation of ALL ANTI acts of hate but he is weak and afraid for himself. (Proof when he didn’t show up for the Kennedy Awards and the opening of Baseball season—afraid of the boos he’d get!). Such a small, cowardly man.
How do we let our grandkids know that presidents should fight and represent ALL Americans, ALL well-meant human beings? They have no example of this right now and it saddens me as to how they will be molded towards government and our leaders. What are the right words to share with them?
My hope this year, as they get older and their studies are more intense, that Passover instills a stronger foundation of who they are as Jews and what that means to their responsibility to the world. As we recite the Passover service, and at our Seder each person reads a portion, I hope the words and essence of the story will have a more heartfelt and profound meaning to us all, especially the teens. Passover has to be the platform for giving the younger generation the history of our people and our fight for freedom of Jews and all others around the world. And as it says, “No Jew is free until all people are free,” and we must imprint these words into their young minds so they include in their futures time for service and commitment to those who need our help.
Whether it be our Jewish history or our American history, education is the best tool to give our kids as a basis of where they come from and how important it is, “So we don’t forget.”
We, as baby boomer grandparents, can share the stories of our family’s struggles that will help them appreciate their freedoms that are taken for granted. Without scaring them, we have to teach them to be vigilant, aware of their surroundings and have tools to defend words and actions of hate. A difficult task, but as their elders, our responsibility to them. Unfortunately, none of us are as safe as we were yesterday.
Tools for safety, education about American and our Jewish history and dialogue between us and the young ones is a recipe for a tasty and peaceful Passover.
May we all celebrate Pesach in Peace, Health and Love…