Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One Word, Six Million Jews

 View through a magnifier at the book entitled 'And Every Single One Was Someone,' which contains only one word, 'Jew,' written six million times over 1,250 pages, which is on display at the Jerusalem office of Gefen Publishing House, in Jerusalem, Israel, 26 January 2014. The concept, more art than literature, began years ago by Phil Chernofsky, a teacher from Kew Gardens, New York, USA, who now lives in Israel. Greenfield imagines the book being displayed in every synagogue and church as a thought provoking symbol to remember the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis during the Holocaust of World War II. On occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January 2014, Greenfield plans to distribute a copy of the book to US President Barack Obama as well as European leaders.  EPA/JIM HOLLANDER

Well, we managed to dig out the "1-3 centimetres" forecast for last night, which mysteriously became 28 cm by my measurement. I would love it if the meteorologists erred in the other direction for a change! I made it to work before 9:00 just the same and the Inn from the Cold team has miraculously appeared to prepare for this evening's meal.

I have some thoughts about the UN Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was Monday in many countries, although observed on other dates in other countries, including Canada. I will mention this one because of a book which has just been published. It is unusual because it contains one single word, repeated six million times. The word is "Jew." The "author of the book, Phil Chernofsky was interviewed by the New York Times:

“When you look at this at a distance, you can’t tell whether it’s upside down or right side up, you can’t tell what’s here; it looks like a pattern, that’s how the Nazis viewed their victims: These are not individuals, these are not people, these are just a mass we have to exterminate.
“Now get closer, put on your reading glasses, and pick a ‘Jew. That could be you. Next to him is your brother. Oh, look, your uncles and aunts and cousins and your whole extended family. A row, a line, those are your classmates. Now you get lost in a kind of meditative state where you look at one word, ‘Jew,’ you look at one Jew, you focus on it and then your mind starts to go because who is he, where did he live, what did he want to do when he grew up?”

I'm not going to rush out and buy this book, but it is provocative. We do need to remember, even though the generation of the Second World War is gradually disappearing because and the survivors of the Nazi program of extermination are fewer and farther between.

 I think that it s important for denominations which have challenged Israel on its occupation of Palestinian lands, such as the United Church of Canada,  also take time to acknowledge why the establishment of this state became urgent following the horrors of the Holocaust or Shoah. It's possible for us to be people of justice in our memory of the past, as well as in the present.

What are your thoughts and reactions to this book?

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