Words from the heart written by Marvin Meisler in commemoration of Kristallnacht (Nov 10, 1938)

11/10/2017 05:48:06 PM

Nov10

by Marvin Meisler

ANNE FRANK, IF NOT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD


V'Yis gadal, V'Yiskadash, shamay rabah, boruch hu...................As I entered into the hiding place of Anne Frank, and for seven other poor souls, during the Nazi era, during the Second World War, I found myself automatically reciting the Hebrew prayer one recites after a loved one dies.

I was weak in the knees, trembling with sadness, my insides crumbled and I became overcome. Now, overwhelmed with despair and loss. I no longer could control my grief, nor did I want to.
My mind wandered to the plight of the Syrian refugees, the image of the dead young child, washed ashore on some Mediterranean beach, that we have seen of late on social media.

The agnostic that I am, prayed anyway for their souls to rest in peace, the tears rolling down my cheeks, uncontrollably.
This was my third time in Amsterdam. I had made it to the entrance of the Anne Frank house twice before, but somehow, always made some excuse not to enter. Too tired, steps too steep, maybe not worth it, I know all about the Holocaust, who needs to deal with it, again?
Well, I was ready this time. I needed to face it full on, I needed to never forget. No more excuses, yep, it was time.

After the initial tears abated, I said to myself, here but for the grace of God, go I.
How fortunate I was to be born in the Bronx in 1941, and not in Europe. Maybe, just maybe, I would not be writing this as I lost 67 relatives in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. I might have been number 68?
I thought of my great aunt and uncle, both were physicians in Paris, France. For all the good they did, they were rounded up, transported to the “ Vel d’Ive,” put in cattle cars, trains on special tracks leading to death camps, and then gassed to a horrible and slow death upon arrival, along with 6 million other Jews.

As I climbed up the steep stairs and viewed the horror of 8 human beings, all being cooped up like rats for years, I could only imagine the terror of being discovered by the most horrible criminal sociopaths of my lifetime, Adolph Hitler and his cohorts.
The only thing Anne Frank owned was the courage to have hope.
Having seen and experienced other holocaust venues, this one was the most personal. It felt personal, as it had a face on it for me, this time.

Being a Jew, with all the meaning therein, really hit home, emotionally.
I was able to explore all the nooks and crannies of that old warehouse, where they hid. I read all the displayed literature, viewed all the old photos and the diary.
At the bottom level, I sat and reflected. The sadness became ever heavier on my chest. My breathing deepened and my already reddened eyes welled up with tears once again.

My mind was in a whirl, bathed in questions I could not answer. I was bereft with despair as well as anger.
All the whys and why nots danced in my head. Why do we Jews assimilate, why do we trust, why do we deny our roots, can this happen again???
Then the realization that the Nazis along with their collaborators, the Poles, the Ukrainians, the Croatians, the Vichy, et al, were all complicit.
The only crime committed was that we were Jews. Nothing more, nothing less.
However, we were not the only victims. Those sons of bitches killed 20 million people/priests, nuns, gay people, gypsies, etc.
The difference was, only the Jews were being annihilated for just being who they were. Pure genocide.

I tried to analyze it. It was mind-boggling, how could this be?
Did it have its roots as Jews being blamed as Christ killers?
Or perhaps that the bad economics of the Weimar Republic needed a scapegoat?
I walked away feeling it was all wrong, no matter whom, no matter what!
That horror reinforced my feelings that Israel needs to exist for us, and thrive. Jews always need a place to run to, a place that we can or could, always call home, our safe room. Relieved and grateful that she is there for me.
And in all fairness, the Palestinian people need and deserve a homeland as well, where they can live and thrive.
And it is my great hope, that that will be realized during my lifetime.

Hopefully, there might be some semblance of peace somewhere in this existence, that we call life on earth.
When we returned to the Bed and Breakfast where we were staying in the beautiful Dutch countryside, we had a brief visit from the owner. He was bringing in our breakfast for the next morning.
We mentioned the Anne Frank House visit, followed by some light banter about the Netherlands and her involvement in the Second World War.
I would venture a guess and say he was born after the debacle. He appeared as a clean-cut sort of guy, very pleasant with a nice nature.
Ed, my spouse, happened to mention that last year I finally relented and visited Germany for the first time in my life. Prior to then, I vowed never to set foot on German soil. Well, I decided it was time to give it a try, and I did and enjoyed it. I was trying my best to rationalize the past, trying to forgive, to move forward, to heal, for my own benefit.
Our conversation refocused again on Anne Frank, bringing it back to the heart of the matter.

In any case, our host said " well, it was just the work of one Austrian madman. "
I was immediately reflecting on the German masses, in newsreels, arms outstretched, all screaming "seig heil"...........

 

Rabbi  David Lazar @ Pride in Palm Springs

04/08/2016 11:19:06 AM

Apr8

Palm Springs Pride is one of Palm Springs biggest events of the year. Pride is a celebration of the Gay & LGBT community. Pride works to build awareness, acceptance and compassion towards our LGBT brothers and sisters. This year Rabbi Lazar walked with a group of transgendered parade goers. Watch the video to learn more.

Craig  Taubman Live at Temple Isaiah

04/08/2016 11:07:13 AM

Apr8

On Thursday, February 18th Craig Taubman & Band played an amazing and engaging performance at Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs. The Turnout was amazing and the music was beautiful. We are so happy to have such a beautiful temple to welcome such amazing performers to our desert.

Rabbi Lazar Talks About ExploraTorah

04/08/2016 09:16:11 AM

Apr8

Rabbi David Lazar talks about ExploraTorah a weekly educational roundtable discussion held every Wednesday @ 3pm. This course is a great way to get better acquainted with the teachings of the Torah. Discussions focus on relevant applications of the torah to your every day life.

 

Parshat Bereishit: Space travel, Buddha and Creation

04/08/2016 02:08:39 AM

Apr8

Recently I visited the California Science Center and got a chance to see a real live space craft, the Space Shuttle Endeavour. I have been in love with sci-fi TV since I was a kid: Lost in Space, Star Trek – all versions, Babylon 5, Firefly, even now, in my late 50s I’m a sucker for the likes of Battlestar Galactica and Extant.  READ MORE

A Moment of Reflection With Rabbi Lazar

01/06/2016 09:32:27 AM

Jan6

These are difficult times. We are shocked almost daily by a wide variety of violent actions all across the globe. Naturally, those tragedies closer to us, whether geographically or socially, anger and scare us more, but in truth, we should be just as affected by the shear scope of killing and acts of hatred all over the planet. Very often - though not always - these acts stem from warped or simply evil interpretation of religion accompanied by a claim that this is what actually God wants. Needless to say, this is a far cry from what we in our congregation, as well as others throughout our local community, consider good religion.

Religion and any kind of interpretation of what God wants from us in our lives are meant to improve the human condition not bring about anguish and destruction. This sentiment was felt recently when clergy and parishioners from 5 neighboring churches and representatives of the local Transgender community, joined us for an inter-faith Kabbalat Shabbat that opened Gay Pride weekend here in Palm Springs. Praying together in celebration of not just tolerance and acceptance, but of lovingly embracing the “other,” were Jews and Christians of different denominations. This was a statement, loud and clear, that Temple Isaiah is a faith community determined to bring light to the darker corners of our society. Lighting up the darkness is the predominate theme of this season. Chanukah will soon be upon us and we will once again tell the story of how the tiny vile of oil, enough for only one day of light, lasted for eight. In our homes and at Temple events, we will slowly bring more light into the world each of the eight nights of the festival as we add another candle. While this story (first found in the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 21b) might still be the most widespread explanation of why we keep eight days of Chanukah, there are a number of other, and quite frankly, far more plausible historical interpretations.

One source much closer to the actual events in the 2nd century BCE (1 Maccabees 4:54-56) implies that eight days of rededicating the Temple was learned from what King Hezekiah did in his day. And yet another ancient document (2 Maccabees 10:5-9) suggests that this was a “make up session” for the eight days of Sukkot that the Jews were unable to celebrate properly while the Temple was contaminated. Only later that year, in the month of Kislev, when the battle for Jerusalem was won, were they able to observe this pilgrimage festival. Still another source (Babylonian Talmud, Avodah Zarah 8b) speaks of 2 pagan eight-day festivals that were celebrated before and after the winter solstice (Dec. 21) that very well might have been the predecessor of not only Chanukah but Christmas as well! Whatever the explanation that speaks to you the most, we will have at least two opportunities to come together and light communally this year at Temple Isaiah at the Twice Blessed movie event on the third night (December 8 th) and at our Shabbat Chanukah potluck dinner on the 6th night (December 11th). This is a good time to reach out to our Christian neighbors during these days of Advent in which they too light candles. Perhaps use this common practice as an opportunity to discuss ways in which we together might spread light in our little part of the world.

Now is also a good time to be in touch with family members and friends in Israel who are still struggling with this latest wave of violent attacks. Sending them messages of love and support is an important way for us to create the light of hope for better times in the future. Spread light here in our o w n c o m m u n i t y b y contributing generously to our toiletries and laundry detergent drive that will benefit clients of the Roy’s Resource Center and join Christopher Greene and me in serving Christmas dinner at the Well in the Desert where over 1,500 needy locals will come to celebrate. But most importantly, let us not be drawn into the darkness by our own fears. For the ultimate goal of terrorism is exactly this. Whether there really was or wasn’t a small vile of oil that lasted eight days, we continue to tell the story of Chanukah miracle, if for no other reason than to reinforce our faith that in the end, light really will prevail. Hag Chanukah sameach!

 

Sat, November 18 2017 29 Cheshvan 5778