A Change Of Heart


For years, I avoided Yom HaShoah observances that commemorated the deaths of six million Jews. I felt that I didn’t need to hear more heart-wrenching stories. I’ve read more books and seen more documentaries/movies about the Holocaust than most people I know. I even co-produced “The Eternal Road: An Encounter with the Past,” a 1999 PBS documentary about Holocaust survivors who return to their former German city. When I speak with my sister, I’m sometimes reminded that she was named for a great-aunt murdered by the Nazis.

My view of mid-to-late 20th-century American anti-Semitism was confined to country club admission, residential restrictions and employment. I wasn’t bothered by any of this as I didn’t have a desire to even join a Jewish country club, move out of my Jewish neighborhood, or work for anyone besides myself. I never personally felt threatened when I went inside a synagogue or any Jewish communal building. Violent anti-Semitism and a heavily armed police presence outside synagogues and Jewish communal buildings had always seemed to be non-American phenomena.

This year, I went to a Yom HaShoah service, as “Never Again” is now not some meaningless phrase traditionally said as the service concludes.

Merion Station, Pa.