My father’s essay “Ivre Anoche”—”I am a Hebrew” came to mind, yesterday, as the world marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Soviet Army in 1945 and International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The essay was written in 1938 before the horrors of the Holocaust and Hitler’s systematic “Final Solution” (1933-1945) were widely known, World War II was fought from 1939 to 1945, and the State of Israel was established in 1948, when he Chairman of the Membership Committee of the Austin Lodge of B’nai Brith. My father was a consummate and prolific writer, voracious reader of Jewish history, and proud member and leader in the Chicago area Jewish community. He and my mother instilled their pride in me and that is why I wanted to share “Ivre Anoche”—”I am a Hewbrew” with you.
My father’s words ring true today, as they have for thousands of years. Below is a small portion of my father’s essay.
“Ivre Anoche”—”I am a Hewbrew.” We acknowledge with pride such a noble heritage—a heritage carried down thru the ages, thru aeons of toil and persecution, and thru centuries of starvation and despair. A heritage that has resisted destruction and survived the diabolic and sinister schemes of kings, emperors, despots, autocrats, and dictators.
It has withstood enslaving in Egypt; torture by the Persians, massacre by the Turks; murder by the Roumanians; crusades by the French and English; inquisitions by the Spanish, disgrace by the Poles and Russians, and finally ostracism and expatriation by the Nazis and Fascists, but always has survived and faced the future renewed vitality, courage, and hope.
With clockwork precision and regularity, new despots arise to remind us that we are still wanderers on the face of the earth, that we are not pure blooded people; that we are the instigators of every national and international minor or major catastrophe. We are the scapegoat and when such conditions arise we seek aid, comfort, protection, and security among are own people.
But how can protection and security be obtained ? How can we help alleviate the suffering of our people? How can we mitigate the misunderstanding and prejudice that exists; the dissemination of falsehoods? How can we belie the disparaging remarks of anti-Semites, the criticism of the intolerant, and the discrimination of society?
All of this can be accomplished by a concerted action; by your assistance and cooperation, and by affiliation with an organization whose efforts, manpower, principles and ideals are directed toward mutual and moral support of the Jew; the promotion of better understanding between Jew and non-Jew; and the inculcation of the precepts of benevolence, brother love, and harmony.
…can you sit complacently by and say, “It’s not my problem.”…
How do you or how can you stand up to hatred, bigotry, antisemitism, racial, religious, and/or gender prejudice?
Can you proudly say, “I am a ___________________________________.”
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