Happy Resurrection Day! Are We Resurrecting Life?
Growing up, my parents bought a house in a predominately Jewish neighborhood. We lived just around the corner from a Jewish synagogue. The Star of David on the building served as a landmark on the corner of Independence Blvd. and Polk Street. Mrs. Issacson, who owned a drug store, lived a few blocks away. She was also the proud owner of a German Shepherd dog and a Boxer. When they had puppies, she asked my dad if I could have one. I brought home my first puppy when I was 8 years old, and he was 6 weeks old. He lived for 15 years.
Now that I think back, I didn’t know the people were Jewish. They were simply our neighbors, shop owners, my classmates, the milkman, the man who came by with a horse drawn wagon selling fresh fruits and vegetables.
I was a daddy’s girl and often went with him on Saturdays and Sundays to the newspaper stand. The local newspaper stand was the gathering place for older men. They talked politics and stuff as I went through the racks of coloring books, paper dolls and crossword puzzles, deciding what I would buy with my allowance.
It’s funny hearing things as a child that makes little or no sense until we become older. For instance, I watched some of the men talk about the numbers on their arm, while other men talked about the marks on their backs, faces and necks. The only thing I could figure out is that those showing the numbers on their arms, and those who talked about the marks on their bodies, had managed to escape death. They were all grateful, and then the conversations led to religion and if the God that they believed in allowed the things that brought them together in that little shack called a newspaper stand.
The years went on. I grew up, and as an adult, ran into a woman who was a former classmate in elementary school. I asked about her parents and she told me they returned to Shanghai, China. Returned? I didn’t realize they had ever been there. So, she told me the story of how her parents made their way out of Europe just before the Nazis took over Eastern Europe. They wanted to come to the United States, but were not allowed to. The only place that would accept their immigration was and Shanghai, China. It was years after WWII that her parents came to America. As Joyce and I both decided to visit over lunch, I was able to put together pieces of conversations I heard in that newspaper stand as a child with what she was telling me. It was the Shoah, more commonly called the Holocaust.
The news about flyers passed out in Donetsk, Ukraine, is more than disturbing. It demands that all Jews over the age of 16 register with the Commissioner for Nationalities or be deported and their property seized by the government. Some say that the flyers are nothing more than a scare tactic, a hoax. Some say that the flyers are true. Either way, it should not happen. It cannot happen. It must not happen.
According to Wikipedia, as of 2012, the Ukraine had the fifth-largest Jewish community in Europe and the twelfth-largest Jewish community in the world. There was a time in Germany and Poland where Jews heard that the Nazis were intent on killing them, and some thought of it as a hoax. They said the world would not allow that to happen.
Has Hitler’s tactics been resurrected in this hour and if so, what security can be offered to the Ukrainian Jews before it’s too late? How will the world know if people come in the night and remove the Jews from their homes where they are never seen or heard from again? What are the perpetrators of the flyers trying to do? Do they want Israel to turn the Ukraine into a puff of smoke?
Tomorrow is Easter, which I refer to as Resurrection Day because it is a day when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His resurrection brought forth hope and fear to those who believed him as Messiah. His resurrection also brought a great divide between the Jews of the Pharisee sect who did not believe that the Messiah came.
So many, even Judas, believed that the Messiah was to come to save the Jewish people from their enemies who sat in government power when in truth, the Messiah came to save all people from being enemies to themselves. And so, we have the Apostle Paul, who was a Pharisee, experiencing that great revelation as he was on his way to persecute more Jews who had become known as “The Way.”
This is a day of resurrecting faith, hope and love, but we cannot bring to life what does not reside within us, and we cannot use that life if we close our eyes to the anger and hatred that persecutes others just because — because of their religion, race, color, gender, financial status. Let us keep in mind that before hope arose, before there was knowledge of the resurrection, there was vigilance by some, while others hid but came out of hiding when they received the news that life had returned. Let us remain vigilant and share with others the news of life, hope, love and peace.