a short personal story about me, for anyone who still has doubts about the crossover: some of you may not know, but i went to reform jewish day school for most of my life. when i was four, our teacher was teaching us some fun facts about jewish law, one of them being that if you’re tattooed, you aren’t allowed to be buried in a jewish cemetery. later that afternoon i talked to my great grandmother and touched her arm, asking her if we could still be buried together. “they’ll make an exception,” she told me. i didn’t understand at the time why she was crying.
here’s what i know about my great grandmother. she came to the US when she was 13. she married my great grandfather she had my grandmother not 4 years later. she spoke yiddush fluently. she was kind and warm and funny and made amazing latkes. she passed when i was six. here’s what i don’t know about my great grandmother: i don’t know what camp she was in. i don’t know what country she came from before the shoah. i don’t know the names of her parents, i don’t know if she had siblings. i don’t remember her numbers, but i don’t think she’d want me to.
my great grandmother was the only one who let me watch cartoons before the age of five. my mother had seen in a morning talk show news spot she was researching that the constant flashing and scene changes damages a child’s brain. my great grandmother didn’t care, and let me watch them anyway. we were close, i think, as close as you can be to a family member who’s some eighty-odd years older than you. she loved watching scooby doo with me, that was always my favorite. one day she walked in and asked me “rachel, why is scooby doo white?” “no bubbe”, i said, “that’s krypto the super dog.”
when she finally understood that this was super dog, the dog belonging to THE superman, she was ecstatic. “my golem!” she kept repeating “my jewish hero!” i didn’t understand what a golem was at the time but i kept insisting that he couldn’t be jewish, he was an alien, he was from another planet. “ah, you forget,” she told me in the way only a wise old jewish woman could, “i was from another planet, and i was an alien once too.”
i could give you links to all the sources that say superman is a fictional golem, created by jewish men who in the new environment of new york city, found that the streets were not made of gold, and yearned for the protector their ancestors had invoked. i could give you ten more articles discussing superman as a metaphor for the jewish american immigrants, more so than any other population. i don’t need to do that, you have google and you can look it up yourself.
if you’re still struggling with why the crossover is bad, think of it like this. my great grandmother identified with superheroes, especially the superfamily (“supergirl,” she used to call me, “you’ll save the world some day too”). she saw them as her protectors, something that got her through the darkness and trauma of the shoah. do you want to be the one to explain to her why now they’re giving nazi salutes?
it doesn’t matter that they’re going to lose. the holocaust is not a story of the archetypal good triumphing over evil. that’s the american story of world war 2, and even then highly fantasized. the shoah is a story of pain, of suffering, of the most loss. you’re wielding it as a storytelling device, when it caused the destruction of half my family. you’re yelling “it’s okay as long as the good guys eventually win!” when i know the good guys, however noble, came years too late to save many of my tribe, of my people.
my great grandmother is buried in a jewish cemetery, since most made an exception for those tattooed in the shoah. she survived, and she let me watch my first cartoon. she used to call me supergirl.
@sixpenceee my family and I went up to the mountains of North Carolina where I will be going to university in the fall. It mostly consisted of me climbing things and looking like a disheveled mountain girl