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Worlds apart: Anne Frank and Covid-19

04/23/2020 04:56:55 PM


Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

In this season of Holocaust remembrance, I want to share some thoughts about Anne Frank. Her circumstance and ours. Both difficult but worlds apart.
Anne, her family and four others lived in a secret annex of 450 square feet for 761 days. There was one bathroom for eight people. She shared her room with an older, male stranger. Food and assorted necessities were brought in by four trusted folks who risked their lives supplying the Jews in hiding. Anne, when she fled her original home left behind her pet, Moortje, a cat.
During the day the Franks and their roommates wore socks and were absolutely quiet so as not to alert those in the factory below of their presence above. At night they put up black out curtains so passer-bys would not be suspicious of light coming from a factory after hours. In the evening they listened to an old, crackling radio for music and news. In the street below banners with Swastikas flapped in the wind and goose-stepping Nazis marched daily past their concealed residence at Westermarkt 20.
For two years, they never left the building until betrayed and deported to Auschwitz in a cattle car. Upon arrival, Anne was disinfected, shaven and tattooed. Soon after she died of dysentery with her sister in Bergen-Belsen. Her entire family was lost except for her father who survived the Shoah. We are living in difficult times, but they pale into indulgent foolishness when we journey back eight decades to what others had to endure in surviving savagery beyond imagination.
There are no line-ups for the bathrooms in our homes. We have empty bedrooms and space unused. We have ample food delivered that we order online. We still eat steak and end the day with a martini and a happy hour. We walk our dogs. Pass our chatty neighbors and cherish the noon day sun. Netflix. The Internet. Libraries. Podcasts entertain us. We Zoom across the globe visiting loved ones in far away places. Our suburban drive-bys honk in celebration of birthdays. We fear no midnight visit from police.
As we recall the millions who perished, who suffered unspeakable terror, let us understand the difference between horror and inconvenience.
Wed, June 3 2020 11 Sivan 5780