I am Jewish. I have read the blurb and first chapter of the book. I refuse to
read any more because I can’t stomach it. I have read reviews of the book. Many
of them. I also have absolutely no patience anymore for what is happening.)
As you may have heard, there was a book published and nominated for lots of awards. Said book is a “romance” between a Jewish girl and the head of a concentration camp.
And people are still confused why we’re upset?
I don’t…understand how y’all are still confused why we’re furious.
1. THE “ROMANCE” BETWEEN THE HEAD OF A CONCENTRATION CAMP AND A JEWISH GIRL.
considered a romance? A consensual relationship.
considered a romance? A non-consensual relationship.
The head of
a concentration camp could have killed a Jew at any time. Ever. Because he
could. Why? Why not? The heads of the camps were not ever known for being “nice”.
Or “compassionate”. Or pick any word that would positively describe someone.
stories that when the higher ups came to visit the camps, they would gather a
room full of the prettiest Jewish girls they could find. (And yes. Many were
blonde haired and blue eyed) And they would shuttle all these girls into the
gas chambers, and let the higher up turn it on and watch the girls die.
The heads of
the concentration camps were the things nightmares were made of. The regular
soldiers in the camps were awful enough. The heads? The heads were monsters.
girl would have fallen in love with someone who was in charge of a killing
factory of her own people.
The head of
a concentration camp and a Jew would not be consensual anything. It would be
rape. It would maybe be Stockholm Syndrome. But it would in no way, shape, or
form, be consensual.
like this happen? Where SS soldiers would rape Jewish women?
There are people
alive today that are the result of SS soldiers raping Jewish women.
It was never
Do you want
to write a book about the head of a concentration camp and a Jewish girl? I don’t
suggest you do, but if for some reason you decide it’s a good idea, please
remind yourself that any relationship they have is not a consensual one,
thereby, not a romance.
2. THE ‘MAGICAL BIBLE’ AND HER CONVERSION TO CHRISTIANITY AT THE END OF THE BOOK.
converts to Christianity” is a trope in inspirational romance.
while I go and vomit.
people, converting is a big no no.
very, very big no no.
Also, just a
few key words for you to remember. The Crusades. The Spanish Inquisition.
know, until last night, that that was something that happened in IR. I don’t
spend much time there.
But let’s be
real clear, shall we?
You may not
use tragedies that we have suffered through as a vehicle for your religious
about this last night, and I’m going to say it again here.
not have helped anyone in the Holocaust. The Nazis were meticulous in their Jew
hunting. If you were even an eighth Jewish, meaning that ONE grandparent was
Jewish, you were sent to the camps.
have been the Christianest Christian, but if there was any Jewish blood in you,
they didn’t care.
tell me Jesus would have saved me in the Holocaust. Jesus would have been in
the concentration camp, too.
He was Middle
Eastern and Jewish. He wouldn’t have lived.
uprisings in the concentration camps that nobody talks about. In Sobibor, they
had a successful uprising, and many of the people in the camps were able to
escape. Many lived.
don’t talk about uprisings. They don’t talk about the Jews who hid in forests
the entire war, killing any Nazi they could.
so much easier to look at Jews as helpless and useless. It makes us less human
and more lambs to the slaughter.
there were people who went like lambs to the slaughter. They didn’t know. And yes,
I’m sure it was, in some ways, easier for them, not knowing what was going to
people knew exactly what was happening.
crammed into train cars and watching the person next to you die.
working in the concentration camp every day, and not know if you were going to
live to see tomorrow.
But painting Jewish people like they were innocent little children dehumanizes them.
They were rabbis and artists and farmers and carpenters and scientists and doctors and butchers and bankers and tailors and musicians.
They were not helpless little children who were suffering without Jesus before the Holocaust. Please stop painting them as such.
3. THE USE OF THE GATES OF AUSCHWITZ IN PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS.
until last night, I was willing to give KB the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she
was just a terribly, terribly misguided evangelical Christian. (That wouldn’t
have made things better at all. It just would have maybe explained how she was
okay writing a book like this.)
When you use
the gates of Auschwitz as promotional material, you go from being ‘perhaps
misguided’ to blatantly anti-Semitic.
things I never in my wildest nightmares thought I would have to say: “Don’t use
the gates of Auschwitz to promote your awful, non-consensual ‘romance novel’.”
This is basically the definition of not okay.
1.1 MILLION Jews were killed in Auschwitz. 1 out of 6 Jews that died in the Holocaust were killed there.
It is a place where unspeakable horrors happened.
The name alone is triggering to many Jewish people.
She used the gates of Auschwitz.
“Arbeit macht frei”
Work will make you free.
Work did not make anyone in that concentration camp free.
also used Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, as promotion.
her blog: “I’m happy to report a wonderful response to my
recent newsletter book giveaway in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.”
use genocide as a way to promote your anti-Semitic book.
4. THE BOOK IS A ‘RETELLING’ OF THE BOOK OF ESTHER.
by saying, um, Kate. What version of the Book of Esther have you read? Is there
another version I have never read or learned?
is. I have never read the Christian version of the Book of Esther. Was I wrong to assume it
was basically the same? It seems so.)
learned the Book of Esther in depth. Many times. And so, when someone tries to
claim that they wrote a ‘retelling’ of Esther when it is CLEARLY not, I feel
the need to prove them wrong.
to absolutely nobody did Esther ever ‘fall in love’ with Achashverosh.
According to many people, she was married to Mordechai. So. Just FYI. (Oh, and? She never wanted to become Achashverosh’s wife.)
did not love Haman. Really, y’all. This did not need to be spelled out.
did not lose her Judaism when she was Queen. If anything, her Judaism
Haman was killed, the Jews didn’t lean back and say, “Okay, we’re good now.” The
decree to kill every Jew hadn’t been revoked, so there was a decree sent out
that the Jews were able to fight back. (Esther 8:11)
the day came in Adar, the Jews fought back, and after the first day, Esther
asked Achashverosh if the Jews in Shushan (the capital city) could have another
day. (Esther 9:13) But they didn’t touch the spoils, as mentioned each time.
Jews of Shushan killed 500 “important people” the first day, and 300 the second
day. The rest of the Jews in Achashverosh’s rule killed 75,000 people. They did not sit back and forgive the people who were still going to try to kill them.
you know why Jews dress up on Purim? One reason is because that day in Adar,
when the Jews fought back, many people dressed up as Jewish people in order not
to be killed.
what my favorite Holocaust-Purim story is?
(9:7-10), the ten sons of Haman are listed as being hung. And for some reason,
the formatting of those specific sentences are very different than the rest of
that of the Book of Esther.
taf, shin, and zayin are smaller than the rest of letters. Any Hebrew copy of
the Book of Esther is like that. It’s not an error.
letters are all used as numbers.
and zayin added together equal to 707.
the Hebrew date, we don’t write the “5”, the first number. So this Hebrew year,
5775, is written in Hebrew as taf shin ayin hey.
5707 was 1946.
happened in the year 1946?
were killed. (Goerig had committed suicide while in prison.)
One of the
people who were hanged was Julius Streicher, the publisher of the anti-Semitic
newspaper, Der Sturmer, and noted Nazi.
When he was
brought to be hung, at one point, he yelled the words “Purimfest 1946!”
But it wasn’t
Purim time. It was October.
which was Hoshanah Raba, the day in which God seals the verdicts of Rosh
Hashanah for the following year.
Haman was a
direct descendant of Amalek.
those who say that the Nazis were descendants of Amalek as well.
There are no
coincidences in Judaism.
5. BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHED IT.
Please see point #2.
6. RWA NOMINATIONS.
It was a top
pick by RT Book Reviews. It got a star from the Library Journal. It was a
finalist in the inspirational category at RWA, but it was also nominated for
Best First Book.
non-consensual romance is not, in fact, a romance.
to be part of the RITAs.
a statement, which was literal bullshit.
What books did you read to do research for your book? Did you read Mein Kapf? The Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Every copy of Der Sturmer you could find?
What books did you read?
You obviously never read The Diary of Anne Frank. Go, My Son. Tell The World. Maus. Night. Boy 30529. The Endless Steppe. Man’s Search For Meaning. Inside The Gas Chambers. Triumph of Hope. They Called Him Mike.
You have obviously never visited any Holocaust Museum.
Never heard the shaking voices giving testimony of the horrors they lived through.
Never saw the pictures the Nazis took. Pictures the American soldiers took.
Never saw the bunk beds. The shoes. The piles of glasses. The faded yellow stars. The pictures of synagogues, burned. The crumpled baby clothing.
You have never seen the numbers on faded arms.
You have never heard an eighty seven year old woman screaming in Yiddish for her mother not to die when you go visit a nursing home.
You have never seen the friends of this woman, who cry with her while she remembers.
You have never been told in a shaky voice, “Shaifalah, you look just like my sister did.”
You have never visited the nursing home week after week with your friends in elementary school. You have never seen the comfort of Holocaust survivors when you sit for hours and listen to them tell you stories about their lives before Hitler ripped it all away.
You have never had old women think you were their sister and cry to you, asking what they would do now that Mama and Papa were dead. You have never had to run your shaking eleven year old hand up and down their back, and tell them they were going to be okay, they would live, they would be okay, don’t cry, don’t cry as they leaned on you like you were the only anchor in a world gone to hell.
You have never had old men cry as you sat with them, remembering their wives being shot before them.
You have never been begged to not forget what happened to your people, to not let Hitler win, don’t let him don’t let him don’t let him win, honey. You keep living and you keep going and you remember what he did to me and what he did to your people remember remember remember over and over like a chant you can not stop singing, like a beat you can not stop marching to this is the life we live.
You have never sat sobbing after leaving a museum. You have never felt the bile rise in your mouth when you see a picture of the skeletal, naked bodies of your people. You have never felt punched in the face when you saw video footage of Nazi rallies. You have never experienced the terror in your heart from watching a video of Hitler.
You have never looked up the town your family is from, only to see a note saying that the entire town was destroyed by the Nazi, and hardly any Jews survived.
You have never had people throw the word “Auschwitz” at you like a joke and then ask why you weren’t laughing.
You have never seen the words “Heil Hitler” in your grandma’s yearbook and thought you were going to cry. You have never asked your grandmother, who was born in 1945 and converted to Judaism at 19, why people wrote that in her yearbook. You have never had to hear your grandmother say that in 1961, people thought writing “Heil Hitler” was FUNNY.
You have never grown up singing songs about the Holocaust. You have never lived as a Jewish child after the Holocaust.
What research did you do, Kate Breslin? What did you read that gave you permission to write something like this?
Why are we still angry?
Why are we still angry?
Why are you giving us reasons to still be angry?
Why are you telling us that it’s not that big a deal?
That we’re too “WHITE” to have ever been persecuted?
That we don’t have what to complain about?
When have you lived the life of a Jew in 2015?
Have you realized yet that anti-semitism has never left? That it is more subtle now, that it’s ‘calm down, it wasn’t such a big deal’?
If you are fasting tomorrow and you feel yourself getting sick, eat something.
If you are fasting tomorrow and you are so light-headed you can’t stand up: drink some water.
If you are fasting tomorrow and you take meds regularly, take them and the water you need to wash them down.
Yom Kippur is about reflection, atoning, and becoming a better person. Fasting is meant to take away distractions from that, and to keep us mindful for the rest of the year. It’s not meant for you to get to the point where you can’t make it through the day.
Like a lot of mizvot, fasting isn’t the destination — it’s the guide rail. Repentance is the observance of the day, not fasting. And to keep yourself healthy and alive and functional is the most important commandment, taking precedence over any other. There are many ways to reflect, to stay mindful, to atone, to filter the past year and approach the next; if you aren’t able to do it with your body, you can still do so with your heart.
Shana tova, all. May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.
In the years after the holocaust, my grandfather, a russian jew, wanted to go to medical school, but they refused to admit most jewish applicants. But he was determined to go, so he sumbitted two identical applications to the same school- one with his jewish last name, one with a bastardized, americanized version that completely non-jewish. The first was rejected but the second was accepted. My grandfather went on to become a doctor and helped so many people, but I will never forgive the antisemites who stole my last name.
Today, on Yom Hashoah, my last name is Balinski. I remember.
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. To all those Jewish people who lost their lives in camps or elsewhere, to all those who survived, to all those who fought back or saved others, we remember you. To all those who lost family or loved ones in the Holocaust, may their memory be as a blessing
I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Today marks holocaust remembrance day. Today we remember the innocent souls that died because of their religion, their sexuality, their race, their disability and because they were different. 11 millions souls perished in this genocide (6 million of them were Jews). Let this be a reminder of the outcome of where hatred and ignorance can lead. Let us learn from history and bring light instead of darkness into this world.
Most importantly, let it serve as a reminder that If humanity has the power to destroy 11 million lives, it also has the power to save 11 million lives; the power to turn ashes into trees.
1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it. My children won’t be our family’s best kept secret. If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family.
2) If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them. I won’t pray for them to be made “normal.” I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that is their normal. I will pray for them just as I pray for all of my children.
3) If I have gay children, I’ll love them. I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing-them-in-the-school cafeteria, kind of love.
4) If I have gay children, most likely; I have gay children. If my kids are going to be gay, well they pretty much already are. They are today, simply a younger version of who they will be; and today they’re pretty darn great.
5) If I have gay children, I expect them to participate in community. Not only are my children a critical part of my family, but they need to know that they are a critical part of the larger Jewish family. We are a kehilah kedosha – sacred community. Bigotry and hatred pose a much bigger risk to this sanctity than the issues that one might profess regarding my children’s orientation. I promise to fight with anyone who would want to limit their involvement in school, camp, synagogue, etc.
6) If I have gay children, I will learn Torah with them. Learning Torah is a central Jewish practice. Engaging Torah writ large is the life blood of our people. I believe in the Torah. My commitment to my children is to have them join the conversation of our people and to have their voices heard. I promise to learn with my children – not just the nice parts, but also the Torah portion we read traditionally in the Yom Kippur afternoon service. I expect to listen and promise to have their interpretation heard. And when my time comes, I look forward to giving God some feedback. They should have the confidence that I will be waiting there for them when they meet the Judge on high. My commitment to my children is unwavering and eternal.
7) If I have gay children, I will celebrate their partnership. My wife is my ezer k'negdi–she is my helpmate. She pushes me to make sure I am my best self. The key to sustained happiness and a life of meaning is finding a partner with whom to share your life. Having a healthy partnership is not just the key to surviving in the world; it is the key to thriving. This partnership is the bedrock for a bayit ne'eman b'yisrael, a faithful home in Israel, which is the basic building block for Jewish society. I hope that we were good role models for partnership and my children should expect that we do not just tolerate their life partner, but that we find ways to celebrate that partnership.
8) If I have gay children, I will celebrate their family. Our children are the greatest joy in my life. While my children might not have children in a “traditional” manner, it does not mean that they should not feel the obligation of Pru uRevu – to procreate and raise another generation of proud Jews. I promise to be a great Zayde to link the next generation back to our past. While my gay children will have taught me about liberation, perhaps being older I have knowledge to share with their children about exodus from Egypt. It is my job to hide the Afikoman; I expect their children to read the four questions. I promise that they will never question their connection to Jewish history and their role in our lustrous future.