Jewish, Jewish, Everywhere, & not a drop to drink
Friday, December 05, 2003
" WHAT BEING JEWISH MEANS TO ME "
By Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Psychologist, Author, Broadcaster
All grandparents feel a special glow when they see their grandchildren. But when I look into the faces of my grandchildren Ari and Leora, there is an added reason for my heart to rejoice. You see, I am originally from Germany and lost my family in the Nazi terror, so I know that Hitler did everything in his power to insure that these children would never be born. And yet here they are. They represent for me small victories in the continuing struggle against evil, especially the evil of anti-Semitism. Last week, when again watching Schindler's List, I was struck by one fact in Steven Spielberg's postscript: The 1200 Jews saved by Oscar Schindler now have more than 6000 children and grandchildren. What if millions had been saved?
Every child born into a Jewish family represents a blessed link in the long chain of Jewish life stretching back to Abraham and Sarah. The soul is seared by the thought of the generations that, because of the Nazi Holocaust, will not be born.
The world can learn something valuable from the Jewish experience. We have been the objects of the most perverse form of human hatred -- the attempt to destroy an entire people. But we never permitted that hatred to determine who we are or what we stand for. As Jews, we never forgot that we are called upon by our tradition to repair the world by transforming hatred into love and by teaching and working for justice and peace.
When I look at my Ari and Leora, I know that the Nazis weren't able to accomplish their supreme goal. Yes, they destroyed my family, including my beloved parents and grandparents, but they couldn't eradicate my will to live and pass on to my children and grandchildren my love for Judaism, Israel, and the Jewish people. For me, the phrase "Am Yisrael chai" -- "The Jewish people lives" -- holds special meaning.
And for a Jewish people whose numbers were so decimated, let future generations fulfill the Biblical commandment -- one Dr. Ruth especially endorses -- "be fruitful and multiply."
Reprinted from The New York Times, Sunday, March 2,1997
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