Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

What’s Our Story?

Posted by lchaimlover on March 23, 2007

jewish_history.jpg

In Canada, the instance of anti-semitic incidents reached an all time high this year. In the former Soviet Union states, Jewish cemeteries and synagogues are being vandalized left and right. Is there any hope? In Munich, the former capital of Nazi Germany, a new Jewish Museum opened, just one month after a new synagogue. The focus of the new museum will be the Holocaust, and I am forced to wonder if that’s right?

Every Jewish History Museum is “focused” on the Holocaust. While I appreciate Germany’s gesture, isn’t there more to Jewish History then the Holocaust? Isn’t there more we can do? Will a Jewish Museum help the anti-semitic incidents stop? With Pesach approaching, I can’t help but feel that we are in yet another age where Jews need a miracle. Not to save us from Pharoah or some lusty eyed oppressor, but to inspire us. The only way to get people to  see Jews in different ways, it to create a story that doesn’t keep Jews in mind as the “victim”. But then again… I was in one of my last college classes, and we were giving presentations on “Religions in Film.” One presenation was on Judaism. They presented “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Munich”. Their thesis? “Jews are always portrayed as the victim, but in Munich they are the aggressor. Would we treat them differently if we saw this other side of them?” No one answered the question. One girl timidly raised her hand and said “Wow, I didn;t even know Munich was about Jews. I thought it was about Israelis.” What did that student mean, “treat them differently?” I didn’t say anything because I was seeing red, and I didn’t want to take it the wrong way and create an awkward situation, but now I wonder if he didn’t mean it in “the wrong way”? And don’t even get me started about the latter comment. So what is our story? Victim, agressor? Israeli History, Jewish History? If we don’t define it, then who will do the job for us? And will it be a story we want?

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One Response to “What’s Our Story?”

  1. Oyster said

    EXCELLENT topic, LchaimLover. This is one I’m especially passionate about.

    Jews all too often readily lap up our people’s history as told by non-Jews. Your choice of images, that of the bas-relief off of the Arch of Titus in Rome, is an excellent example. The old adage goes that “the victors write the history”, and the Jews have been at the receiving end of the stick for millenia. So guess what? Our history is not very favorable from goyishe sources.

    But, then again, the Jews are also ‘victors’, in the sense that we out-lasted even the most loathesome civilizations that aligned themselves to destroy us (from Amalek, to the Romans, to the Third Reich), as Mark Twain (a person of dubious Antisemtic sentiments) eloquently penned, the light of the Jewish people beat them all.

    I encourage everyone who is proud of their Jewish identity to read our people’s history, from OUR perspective. Every nation on this planet has their historical narrative and perspective. You should learn ours and assert ours as well. Or as LchaimLover rightfully points out, others will gladly do it for us…

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