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A Rant and a Reflection

The world has changed so much in the four years since my father’s passing. There are moments when I feel thankful that he was spared the isolation of the lockdown and the tumultuous times we have all experienced the last couple of years. At the same time, however, I am aware that this pales in comparison to the unspeakable horror he suffered both during and after the Holocaust. And I am reminded of how there is a tendency to relate current events to the extermination of the entire Jewish people. While it’s natural and important to learn the lessons of our history so that they are not repeated, we must be careful not to exaggerate the similarities between other events and the Holocaust.

We need to understand that the Holocaust is our history and personal to us. The genocide was intended for all of us. Just as we just witnessed at the synagogue in Texas, from Reform to ultra Orthodox Jews, we are all targets. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks zt”l, explains the distinction between history and memory. History is what happened to other people, and memory is what happened to you and becomes part of your identity. Much of Jewish identity is what we are commanded to remember. For example, we must remember the Sabbath, the Exodus from Egypt, and in this week’s parsha we are commanded to remember what Amalek did to us. Similarly, it is our responsibility to remember what happened to us during the Holocaust.

Increasingly, there is a trend of making casual comparisons to the Holocaust. Whether its mask mandates being compared to the wearing of yellow stars, equating January 6 with Kristallnacht, or PETA’s implication that meat-eating is akin to another Holocaust, this type of rhetoric is dangerous. It minimizes the clear objective of annihilating the Jewish people and the actual murder of the six million Jews. Additionally, such rhetoric undermines the testimonies and personal tragedies of every single survivor. As a result, the Holocaust begins to lose its status as a Jewish memory and inches closer to becoming another footnote in history, soon to be forgotten.

We are arriving at the closing window to a time where we can no longer hear firsthand accounts of the unfathomable horrors our families and our people suffered from. We must be the voices who can speak for those who were silenced and for those who are no longer here. With so much historical revisionism, censorship and casual universalization of the Holocaust, it is more important than ever for us to speak out.

On this yahrzeit, I continue to be amazed that despite the horrors my father lived through, he was a warm and loving generous man who dreamed of a better life for his family. Today there are great grandchildren who carry his name and whose families he would be so proud of. I will forever be inspired by his resilience and by his love for the Jewish people and Israel. I will always continue to share his story, the story of my family and of our people. The story of survival, perseverance, and hope for the future.

About the Author
Caron Lulinski Strulowitz has been a Jewish Early Childhood educator for many years. She is devoted to expanding Holocaust education and Hasbara for Israel.
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