The Three B's
This post is about three B's that are central to my week. I'm talking about the The Breman Jewish Museum, Brendan Murphy and Ben Walker. See, I'm enrolled in a week-long intensive course designed to help train educators to teach the Holocaust. The course is a specialized annual program offered by The Breman Institute in Atlanta. I have to say, it is only day two but I've gotten a lot out of the course and am very glad I enrolled.
Due to time, I probably won't blog about the course everyday but I hope to do at least a couple posts this week. We are in class from 8:15 to 3:15 each day and it is non-stop with only a small lunch break. Each day we spend time connected to the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and also have a featured Holocaust Survivor who speaks to us and takes questions. Those two elements alone make the course a win for me but they aren't all that is happening but that is where I will start.
Today's Holocaust survivor was Ben Walker (pictured above). He is in his early 80's and was originally from rural Romania. He managed to survive the war with his mother but lost his father and sister. However, like many survivors, he avoided discussing his experiences for decades.
What changed his mindset about speaking out was 9/11 and the fear he saw in his daughter and kids after that event. For the last 16 years he's been the voice of a witness, sharing his personal journey through the tragedy that at the time destroyed his world.
What I noticed about Ben is a trait many survivors exhibit: a healthy sense of humor. He joked and asked face-to-face questions of his audience. In doing so, he shared the source of his strength - a renewed hope that had been rekindled somewhere down the line.
Ben focused on the Ukraine and Romania which are little discussed and his eventually aliyah to Israel where he lived on a kibbutz with other survivors. Apparently, in the desert hope does bloom. I highly encourage listening to Ben if you get the chance.
Well, that brings me to the third B. Dr. Brendan Murphy spoke for nearly three hours on antisemitism and the roots of this demented ideology which he traced back to the time of Jesus and then walked his class through the timeline of events since.
We spent a good deal of time (but the time flew by) in the Middle Ages talking about how the Catholic Church and especially Martin Luther incorporated antisemitism into their teachings. Martin Luther in particularly wrote what amounted to a foreshadowing of a Nazi Manifesto. It was disturbing to see religion twisted for the sake of prejudice and realize how often it goes unchecked from behind the pulpit.
Still, the hatred of Jews doesn't explain how mankind makes the leap to genocide which became a staple of the 20th century. Brendan Murphy fielded a theory that the ingredient that made genocide possible was racism. He explored the aspects of that and it was a thought-provoking session.
There is a lot to absorb. I am looking forward to tomorrow's Yad Vashem hookup as it is suppose to be about ghettos. I have like five questions already to ask so I will have to weed the list down tomorrow over morning coffee. I like a good challenge.