Learning a lesson about the Holocaust from my daughter.
Mishpatim & Shekalim
Never Again What?
When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Shemot/Exodus 21:22-25)
I just got back from a two-week teaching tour on the Canadian West Coast. Three of the five times I have been out there over the past few years, I have enjoyed the blessing of being accompanied by one of my adult children. This time my daughter Devorah was with me. She works with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR), a prolife activist organization. Apart from the personal father/daughter time we enjoyed, her main function on this trip was supporting me in my work. Yet she had many opportunities to share what she normally does. Having never had such an intense time together, I got to hear all sorts of her stories that I had never heard before.
The story that impacted me the most occurred in her early days of involvement with CCBR. She was participating in a Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), which usually takes place on university campuses and consists of large graphic displays comparing abortion with historical genocides, including the Holocaust. Being Jewish ourselves we have discussed at length the issue of this particular comparison. My children fully understand the uniqueness of the Shoah, as it is called in Hebrew, and how offensive it is to our people to use the term to mean genocide in a generic way. Without downplaying tragedies suffered by any other people group, the Shoah is a unique event, not only as an attempt of Jewish genocide in particular, but also in its motives and context. Therefore, we insist that the term "Holocaust" be reserved exclusively to apply to the Jewish experience during World War 2.
So Devorah completely empathized with a female student she encountered during GAP. She noticed her charging over to the "Free Speech Area," an area reserved for people to express their thoughts in writing about what they were seeing. The student grabbed a marker and aggressively wrote something to the extent of: "As a descendant of Holocaust survivors, I am deeply offended that you would use Holocaust imagery to promote your prolife agenda!" Devorah approached the student and said, "May I discuss with you what you wrote?" To which the student replied, "I have five minutes to get to class. You have five minutes." Devorah then explained how she as a Jewish woman understood how the student felt. She told her that she grew up with stories of her grandfather's losing relatives in the Holocaust and the resolve of "Never again." "Same," acknowledged the student. Devorah went on to say that as Jewish people who deeply understand what it means to be dehumanized, devalued, and disposed of, how can we resolve to never again allow such a thing to happen, yet tolerate the dehumanization, devaluation, and disposal of preborn children. The student then extended her hand to Devorah and said, "Thank you. I never understood that before."
The value of human life is where the Shoah extends beyond simply being a Jewish issue. The value of each and every human being, whatever their ethnic origins or age from the moment of conception, is where the plan to exterminate the Jews and abortion intersect. That my daughter grasps that "Never again" necessitates her standing up for the most vulnerable of all humans is something this Jewish dad is very proud of.
To learn more about CCBR, visit their website at www.endthekilling.ca (Note that you will encounter graphic abortion imagery on this site).
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