Saturday, October 27, 2007

"I'm Just Calling To Tell You..."

I was leaving class with a friend one day, and my cell phone rang. I generally try to keep a policy of parents-only when I'm with people. This time, however, a name I hadn't seen in years appeared on the caller ID. We had been close years ago, but lost touch.

When that happens, I assume the person's child/niece/nephew got hold of the phone and accidentally called me. I excused myself as my curiosity got the best of me, and answered, "Hey, ...did you call me by accident?" I asked.

"No, actually, I called to tell you I'm engaged." She said matter-of-factly.

"Are you serious or sarcastic?" I asked.

Many times when you haven't spoken to someone in a while, and they call you, you suspect that they're engaged. Knowing that, some people call me, and before I can ask how they are, they say, "Hi, Michelle, No I'm not engaged, I'm calling because..." So I figured she was playing me.

Chances are, she's reading this now. Hi, you-know-who-you-are. No hard feelings, kid. Just trying to think aloud.

Suddenly, she calls me to tell me she's engaged. Sure I was happy for her. But I was taken aback.

Would I have been offended had she not called me?

Would I have felt better had she "buried the lead"?

Shouldn't she have sounded excited?

My friends and I have had a similar debate going for quite some time. One friend says it's none of anyone's business until it happens.
Others feel that if you're close with a person, it's your responsibility to tell them that something's going on. It's their right to know.

This girl was right in the middle. We were close years ago, but lost touch. So it's a toughie.

Should you tell people if you're getting engaged? Or shock the hell out of them when it actually happens?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Guilt and the Holocaust

In high school, we had a class called "Churban Europe" upon request of the "Gedolim." At the end of the year, the teacher screened a movie/documentary. I was crying so hysterically, I couldn't contain myself. I didn't want to cover my eyes because I didn't want to shelter myself from the harsh reality of what my grandparents endured. But I did. I peeked through the cracks between my fingers as my tears flowed through them.

Whenever I catch a glimpse of the numbers tattooed on survivors' arms, a chill goes through my body, and I shudder with guilt. I think of the agony, the living hell that they endured at the time those numbers were harshly tatooed on their arms. And now it's stuck with them forever. A reminder -every day of their lives of what they lived through. (Perhaps some see it as inspiration, that G-d kept them alive and all that. )

But are we supposed to feel guilty? Is this the purpose of the Holocaust education?
Besides, why call it "Churban Europe," just call it the Holocaust!! That's just trying to shield us again.

My mother, a child of holocaust survivors, picks up books here and there on the topic. "You should really read this," she says, handing me the book. I can't do it.

Am I just a spoiled little brat who can't handle the truth? Or is it my responsibility to cry my way through it?

In high school, we had to do a book report on one of two books, one was the Artscroll "Rav Yaakov" one, which is HUGE, or the Klausenberger Rebbe, which I think was like 200 pages. Obviously I chose the shorter one, and also felt it was my responsibility to read up on the important topic. The tears streamed down my face once again.

We had to write a personal profile for one of my journalism classes. I thought of my relatives who are holocaust survivors remembering how my Bais Yaakov made sure to have assignments of the sort all the time. We've all spoken to my grandmother at least once for one homework assignment or another. Why can't we just ask out of our own interest? I'm uncomfortable bringing it up, because I don't feel it's respectful.

We know that the survivor generation is dying out, and nowadays with Ahmajenidad spewing his hatred and denial of the Holocaust, it's important that we learn about it. But are we supposed to feel guilty?