Mind's I: Thankful life is respected

On the morning of Yom HaShoah, I rolled into the physical therapy gym at Legacy Preston Hollow, looked around, and realized with a shock that by 70 years ago, every one of us would have been murdered.
Two amputees. One woman with an arm in a sling, another struggling to stand upright. People relearning basic finger skills by pulling out buttons imbedded in wads of putty. A man with some assistive or supportive device on almost every part of his body. A couple facing each other, safety belts around their waists, gripped tightly by two therapists as they bounced and tossed a big rubber ball back and forth between them. Two others struggling with walkers. But those of us in wheelchairs were envious of them, hoping for — while dreading — the hard work that, maybe, would get us to the point of using walkers ourselves, instead.
What would Hitler have provided for us? Maybe death by bullet, if we were “lucky” enough to merit a quick end. But probably not even that. His Nazis didn’t waste expensive ammunition. We might have fueled a few interesting medical experiments before what was left of our poor bodies finally gave out, at no cost to them. Jew and non-Jew alike, if we are handicapped, we are lucky to live today in a country with basic respect for all human life.
But what of our Jews, even able-bodied ones, living elsewhere 70 or more years ago and looking with hope toward America?  Just in time for Yom HaShoah, the prolific Harvey Sheldon introduced this latest in his long string of books: Emmis: The Greatest Scandal in All of American History. His “truth?”  That our country’s major Holocaust-deniers at the time were U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the vaunted New York Times itself.
Sheldon isn’t so much writer as compiler, a prolific deliverer of histories through lists. The list of his own books now runs to 17 on the Goodreads website. He began several years ago with musical “encyclopedias”: golden ages of pop, swing, jazz, etc… Then he went ethnic: Jewish music, followed by Afro, Latin, Italian. And later, non-musical entries on many subjects, from Yiddish to football. White House Scandals and Emmis, with its single-scandal concentration, are his most recent.
“I want the world to know about the respectable institutions who did nothing to save the Jews,” he writes, “and thereby were complicit in increasing the death toll…Our own President FDR was directly involved…Only seven stories on Jewish persecution made The New York Times front pages in eight years…” I fear Sheldon rakes easy muck rather than presenting researched history. But should I read these “exposés” anyway?  Should you?
A post from a California cousin arrived at about the same time as the blurb for Sheldon’s newest. Hers asked me to “do one small act to remember the six million Jewish lives that were lost during the Holocaust:” to “please send this message to everyone you know who is Jewish, and ask them to also forward this to others. If we reach six million email names,” it continued, “we will give back to God what He gave to us: six million Jews who are alive today who remember those who perished.”
Cousin Celia doesn’t say who started this effort, or who’s keeping count — or might even be able to count — how many received this message and then passed it on. In the end, another list. So instead of forwarding it to everyone I know who’s Jewish (impossible!), I’m just telling you about it. Maybe something more to think about rather than participate in — like glossing over Harvey Sheldon’s accusations rather than reading them in his non-vetted presentation style.
But I think about both Holocaust scandals and Holocaust numbers as I work my recalcitrant leg back to life, with gratitude that I and my rehabbing companions live today where life is respected enough that help is provided for us.

Leave a Reply