The sight of neo-Nazis parading through Lithuania’s capital city in an unsanctioned march sent chills down the spines of many people both inside and outside this small Eastern European country – and rightfully so. Public expression of hatred in a land with a horrific Holocaust history is cause for alarm.
In the game “Truth-or-Dare,” I choose “truth” nearly every time. I’m not much of a dare-taker. Thus, if you and I were playing “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days,” I would confess that the prayer Avinu Malkeinu provides me with both my second-favorite liturgical moment and my second-greatest pet peeve of the year’s liturgy. (Note: Even though I may have to repent for it, I will leave you in suspense about my favorite liturgical moment and my greatest liturgical pet peeve. Also, “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days” is fictional, although I hereby declare copyright in the event Mattel or Hasbro comes knocking at my door.)
During World War II in Lithuania, the penalty for hiding Jews was death. Nonetheless, Jura’s family extended a helping hand to mine.
Today, as the world marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, I am thinking of my father, of blessed memory. He was among the Jews forcibly marched through the camp's entrance gate under the cynical Nazi motto: Arbeit Macht Frei, Work Makes (You) Free.
The Holocaust is an important topic not only in Jewish history, but in the history of humankind. The topic is disturbing, and it is appropriate to feel uncomfortable and upset by the stories, the facts, and especially the images.