This post appears today, April 8 2013, in The Chronicle.
My grandfather looked fragile, a shell of his former self. We had just finished the part of Passover Seder called “Eating of the Festival Meal”—a delectable sampling of salty parsley, bitter herbs, dry matzah, hard-boiled eggs and, of course, those oh-so-juicy balls of gefilte fish. It’s hard to get more “festive” than that.
Several palette-restoring matzah balls and pounds of brisket later, I returned to the sight of my grandfather sitting with us, but strangely alone, removed even.
“Where is he?” I wondered to myself. “What is he thinking?” Only later would I realize that the right question was, “When?” [..]
Please join us live as we read the names of those who perished in the Holocaust and in other genocides.
The following was originally published in The Chronicle on April 19, 2012
Can you recall your last day home before coming to Duke? I remember packing my bags; sharing a “last supper” with family; hanging out with friends; and closing my eyes one last time in my comfy bed.
Now imagine, the next morning, instead of packing up the car for the 11-hour drive to your dream school, you are packed into a cattle car. There are no rest stops. No food. No water. The only public bathroom is where you stand or a pail, if you can navigate the sea of bodies (alive and dead) to reach it.
After three gruesome days, the train finally stops. The doors swing open, giving you a first look at campus. The filth on your body would make a PWILDer fresh off the Art Lobe look immaculate. Dr. Joseph Mengele delivers your convocation address. He has a knack for experimentation—on humans.
Instead of selecting which orientation sessions you might attend, you are the subject of selection. In the ensuing hysteria, you ask an upperclassmen where each direction leads. You gesture to the right; he says, “work.” You gesture to the left; he points to the smoke oozing from the chimneys in the distance.
“Welcome to Auschwitz,” he says. [..]
In the coming days, you will hear from members of the Coalition for Preserving Memory.
We hope to use this space to communicate with you and share our stories. We will delve into the academic, ethical, and emotional questions surrounding genocide remembrance and prevention. These issues are often difficult to grapple with and in NO way, do we assume to have all the answers or function as an authority. We simply hope to start a much-needed conversation that can inform how and why we each choose to preserve the memory of innocent lives lost to senseless hatred.