Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Most Valuable Part of Me by Cardeno C.

My Passports

I’m not a big believer in regrets because life is too short and we learn from everything we do and silver linings and all that. But one thing I sometimes regret is seeing Schindler’s List. I went out of obligation because it was a movie about my relatives and the ways in which they were massacred. I sat in the theater and watched people on the screen who looked like me (many were Israeli actors). And I felt sick to my stomach the entire time. That was over two decades ago and I still actively force myself not to think about those scenes because the pain is just as palpable.

I don’t share much about myself and I get teased about that sometimes. But one thing my readers know about me personally is that I’m Jewish. I identify with that part of myself above all others. It’s number one on my list of who I am.

I’m Jewish. I was born Jewish. I’ll die Jewish. My parents are Jewish. Their parents were Jewish and everyone who came before them on all sides of my family were Jewish.

I’m Jewish and I’m proud of that. My ancestors were proud to be Jewish too. Many of them stopped believing in G-d during the holocaust, but they didn’t stop being Jewish. Most of them were killed during the holocaust, but they didn’t stop being Jewish.

My grandparents escaped from Germany and Poland during the holocaust, and they didn’t stop being Jewish. They were Zionists who founded the state of Israel, where no matter what, our people have a home. Today, in 2015, the State of Israel takes in Jewish people who need a safe haven from all around the world. They might not have much in common, but they, like me, are Jewish.

We say never forget and I believe that to my core so I supported a movie that helped the world remember. But you know what? I didn’t need that movie to remember. I personally won’t forget. I can’t forget. Those people who died aren’t characters on a screen or in books. Those people are my people. Those people are me.

I spent summers during my formative years in an Ashkenazi assisted living home in Israel and I talked to the survivors who lived there. I saw the marks on their skin. I saw how little some of them could eat because of permanent damage to their stomachs. And I heard first hand from some of the women — women who never had children because of the surgeries performed on them by the Natzis — about how they survived because the guards at the camps let them live so they could rape them.

I was fourteen when I knew those people and heard their stories. They’re gone now. I’m not. I won’t forget them.

To Kate Breslin, her publisher Bethany House, the Romance Writers of America, Newsweek, and anyone else who distorts history, either directly or through their support, and to anyone else who thinks Jewish people are “rankled” by that book or that we need or want your “compassion”, and to anyone else who believes the path to my salvation requires destroying the most valuable part of me: I’m still here and I remember something you either choose not to understand or have no capacity to comprehend.

Oh, and in case I haven’t made it clear enough, I’m Jewish. And I’m staying that way.

- Cardeno C.

Background on RWA at K. Locke's blog.

1 comment:

  1. Oh CC, you've moved my to tears again. This time, it was just too painful to think on these all too true atrocities. I am not Jewish, but I was taught of the holocaust at school and by parents who believed this time I history should NEVER be forgotten or misrepresented, or romanticized.
    That this book was allowed to be, is a grave insult to the memory of those who were tortured and killed, and every family represented.
    As cross as I am, I'm trying to take this as an opportunity. To hug my Jewish friends tight, to cook them comfort food and 'mother' them hard! But more importantly to talk about the holocaust. The younger generation need to see, to know, to hear the stories. To be taught that we should never stand by, that all people, no matter what differences, are equally valued. We must fight on.

    Thank you so much for your thoughts and words. As always, beautifully expressed. I will encourage everyone to read your blog. To know, to understand, to learn.

    Thank you x