Friday, February 8, 2008

The Streets of New York are a Living Library

It is commonplace to commemorate events and people at the time of their anniversaries, birthdays or date of passing. Occasionally I will depart from calendric considerations if I meet an individual connected to the event in question. I regularly meet and converse with people from Russia and Ukraine. Some are children and grandchildren of those who survived the pogroms from 1918 to 1921.
For years, anti-semitism and other forms of prejudice were tightly managed in the former Soviet Union. The overthrow of communism has unleashed dormant unrest and ethnic hatreds. The revolution against communism raised the hopes of many. Many too were disappointed by the uneven rewards of privatisation of government run businesses. They want a scapegoat for their difficult circumstances. Much like a minority of Jews in the Exodus who waxed nostalgic for the security of slavery in Egypt, some of those who were freed from communism still long for the security it did provide.
Unfortunately for Jews, (and other non slavic minorities in Russia), the privatisation of ethnic hatred has proceeded with greater efficiency than the privatisation of the economy. It is for this reason that I have run the following article from Wikipedia about Shalom Schwartzbard of blessed memory.
In Jewish tradition, the anniversary of death is considered to be the anniversary of birth to eternal life. Those murdered for their faith or Jewish ancestry are considered to be saints. Sadly, because of the three year duration of the Russian Civil War (1918-1921), and the six year length of world War Two, (1939-1945) we may be sadly certain that every day is the "yarzeit" (death anniversary) of a forgotten saint. When you say amen to mourner's kadish in synagogue, remember those whose names are forgotten.
2008 Magdeburger Joe

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