Friday, November 2, 2018

Becoming Anne Frank

My literary hero Dara Horn wrote Becoming Anne Frank: Why did we turn an isolated girl into the world's most famous Holocaust victim  before is beautiful and prophetic and reminds us of one thing: somehow people only seem to care about us when we are dead.

Us being Jews. This reached into my very soul and made me want to howl.

Is this what it takes to see us? Is this the only way? Do we only have real meaning to you when we are dead?

You know we walk among you every day and we live. You know we have always been worthy and we always deserve to be seen...really seen not just as relics of a seemingly ancient genocide that isn't actually ancient. 

 We aren't relics. We are people and despite your assumptions about us, it continues to be hard to be other. It continues to be wearisome and tiring to walk among you on the outside.  It isn't over. It's never been over. It makes you feel better to think we are some magical success. And yes, America is a gift to us. America has afforded us a life...but so had Germany and frankly, despite what you think you know about life before the Holocaust, so did Poland.
But that life hangs by a thread, and we live knowing that we must continue to be okay to you. You must find us acceptable. You must like our jokes. Our language must make you giggle. We must mold ourselves to work within your rules and your boundaries and your culture and your religion. We must understand that Your God is the center and ours is only the beginning that somehow lost it's way. We must know that self-determination and peoplehood is only acceptable if we don't want a whole plot of land. We must acquiesce that at the end of the day we are truly cheap and secretly wealthy. Half of us are dead, but someone we still control you.
These are truths we live with. We've always lived with. Your swastikas and graffiti. Your bomb threats and your beatings. Your British Labour Party and your burning old ladies in their Paris apartments because we are not enough. We are other. We are not you.
Unless we are dead.

Take this moment and learn about us. Get to know us. Really get to know us. The real us. The living, breathing, upstanding, outstanding us. See what we've done for the world. For history. We are survivors. We continue to exist despite everything. Find out our history, our worldview, our religion. Learn how we differ from each other. See our diversity. Understand why Chanukah has nothing to do with Christmas or why Easter might make us cringe with a bit of fear. Accept that Jesus is not part of our theology and he doesn't have to be. Love us without the but....learn the actual history of Israel not what some radical politician with a personal agenda has to tell you. Let us sit at your progressive table. Help us fight the right that holds us up as evil vermin.

We are so much more than dead, but you need to see us...really see us live.

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