A Challenge for Us This Yom HaShoah

Posted by Jacqueline Homan

Posted on 4/12/06


I recently researched items concerning anti-Judaism then and now,  for writing a memorial piece  for Yom HaShoa to honor both those slain by the Nazis and those who survived to tell about it. In reading through various things online about anti-Judaism today, I came across an interesting news piece at the following website:  Michael Jackson in short, blamed all of his woes on Jews. He called us all leeches. Whether you are a poor elderly Jew struggling to survive on a meager social security check, a poor disabled Jew eaking a sub-existence on SSI, a doctor, lawyer, college professor, housewife, displaced and unemployed middle-aged IT worker or a self-employed small businessperson - if you are a Jew, Michael Jackson means YOU. That is, you and I and every Jew throughout the world, whether we are Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox, Chasidic, assimilated and unaffiliated, rich or poor, young or old, Jewish by birth or Jewish by choice.

 It is somehow our collective fault that this eccentric pop culture icon has money problems. Michael Jackson made and blown far more money than what I will ever have in my life if I live to be 100 years old!  I fail to see how his poor choices leading to his financial woes are my fault just because I am a Jewess. I don't recall coercing him into spending his fortune frivolously on everything from skin bleachings to nose jobs and oxygen capsules in which to sleep (he thought this would make him retain his youth and vitality). I don't recall forcing him into a situation where he would be sued and charged criminally for inappropriate behavior towards young boys at his ostentatious "Neverland" estate. As one member of an entire people whom he referred to as " blood-sucking, money-grubbing leeches", I don't recall getting any benefit from his millions that he earned and spent before moving to Bahrain.

Hollywood idols often have more political sway than the average Moshe or Miriam. What they say and what they portray or write in their portrayal of Jews can have significant consequences as far as pursuading others. Such accusations from a pop culture icon like Michael Jackson is enough to cement in the minds of non-Jewish Americans the negative stereotypes we as Jews have had leveled against us for time immemorial, which precipitated pogroms - the most horrific being the Nazi Holocaust. The icons of the early 1900's up through WW II were not necessarily Hollywood idols like Mel Gibson and Michael Jackson, they were business gurus, adventurers, charismatic speakers and writers like Henry Ford, Charles Lindberg, William Marr and Adolph Hitler whose anti-Jewish propaganda influenced the average non-Jewish citizen, leading to the callous indifference which enabled the Nazis to enact their agenda of genocide against us without raising an eyebrow.

The fact that Jews have given more help to non-Jews than they tend to give to their own fellow Jews in need is never acknowledged and appreciated by those who hate us. As Dr. Ursula Falk so rightly pointed out in several articles she has written, we must really start helping our own fellow Jews locally more, even if that means less giving to non-Jewish groups, many who hate us no matter what we have sacrificed for them, including our lives as in the case of the two Jewish civil rights volunteers who were murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1964 by Klansmen. I don't mean just helping our fellow Jews with a "care package" or some money - although that is a good start -  I mean also being alot more considerate, respectful and kinder to our fellow Jews, be they Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist or unaffiliated and assimilated. I mean inviting someone new or visiting our shuls to spend Pesach and other Jewish holidays with us. I also mean refraining from referring to non-Orthodox Jews as "not real" Jews, and refraining from attacking our more strict Orthodox brethren with accusations of not "being with it". This is especially important for those who are reconnecting, whose Jewish experiences is limited due to a fragmented upbringing or parental assimilation who really need to be with other Jews in their homes as well as in shul on the Jewish holidays to experience the essence of Judaic tradition because Judaism, like good sex, is not a spectator sport. You have to be included to participate.

Yom Hashoa is coming up soon, after Pesach, on the 27th of Nissan. Instead of remembering six million martyrs on only that one day, let us honor those six million as well as those who survived, by treating those survivors who are still with us, with the dignity, kind treatment and respect they deserve - every day. Yom HaShoa is their day too, let it not be in vain.  Let us also be appreciative for the knowledge of their experience so that we may never forget the power of harmful words of anti-Jewish propaganda. Let us not ignore them in shul  the rest of the year, treating them as the toy we must have for our birthday that we trot out to show all our friends on one special day and then casting it aside to gather dust from neglect for the rest of the year. Let us start being more excellent toward one another. There is more strength in unity, and I say let us be more united in spite of our differences so that the words "Never again" can have more substance as a sure thing. Let us also remember what the Talmud says: " Aniyeh Ircha Kodmim" - The poor of your town come first. We don't need to be rocket scientists to know that this means our fellow Jews in need who are in our midst in our local and nearby communities.


Jacqueline Homan, Erie PA

Forum            Home