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Oct 20 2014

Does Amazon Have a Nazi Problem?

By at 2:19 pm

does amazon have a nazi problem?

Last week, Kveller broke the story that a “punk rock” swastika ring was for sale on both Amazon and Sears’ websites. People were, understandably, outraged, and the story soon went viral, prompting even Carson Daley to talk about it on the “Today” show.

After getting flooded with angry comments on social media, Sears clarified that the item was posted by a third party in their free marketplace, and quickly took the item down, releasing this apology on their website. Amazon also quietly removed the ring from their website.

But wait, there’s more.

A concerned reader pointed us to several other Nazi-affiliated products currently for sale on Amazon, including: Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 13 2014

This Swastika Ring from Sears is Strictly For Fashion Purposes

By at 12:51 pm

Swastika-ring

Got a hot date tonight? Nothing spells romance like a chunky black swastika.

Billed as an edgy fashion accessory, this giant swastika ring is part of Sears’ “men’s punk rock style” jewelry collection, and is also available from online retailers like Amazon. The product description explains that the rings are to be used solely for purposes of wooing the ladies: Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 17 2014

My Son’s First Kippah is Making Me Rethink My Identity

By at 11:22 am

Kippahs

I’m an Orthodox woman and pretty soon, I’ll be wearing my first kippah (skullcap). Well, sort of. My son turns 3 in November, and along with a new pair of Jordans, he’ll be boasting a navy knitted kippah that says his name–in Hebrew, no less–on his first day of school. For the first time, he, and I, will be publically identifying ourselves as religious Jews. I’ll be frank: I find it terrifically daunting.

Until now, I have enjoyed the anonymity that is concomitant with being a bareheaded woman. There is something both thrilling and peaceful about the ability to get lost among (most) peoples of the world without anyone knowing, or caring, about my religious identity. I have been free to behave as I wish, without bearing any theological, cultural or religious connotation.

But as I prepare to accompany my son while he sports his new symbol, I know we are entering the grounds of involuntary Torah ambassadorship.  Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 19 2014

How Can I Be a Happy Mother During the More Difficult Times?

By at 11:03 am

SrulikB&W

There are two sentences that have impacted my parenting philosophy more than anything else I’ve read about raising children. In “The Art of Loving” by psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm, he writes, “The Promised Land is described as ‘flowing with milk and honey.’ Milk is the symbol of the first aspect of love, that of care and affirmation. Honey symbolizes the sweetness of life, the love for it and the happiness in being alive. Most mothers are capable of giving ‘milk,’ but only a minority of giving ‘honey,’ too. In order to be able to give honey, a mother must not only be a ‘good mother,’ but a happy person.”

I didn’t have children when I read those words for the first time, and yet, I made a promise to myself that when I did, I would make an effort to be happy, no matter what life threw my way.

A few short weeks after I encountered Fromm’s writing, my then-boyfriend brought up the idea of starting a family, and before we realized the enormity of our decision, there was a wonderful baby boy in our lives. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 1 2014

Do I Believe in God? I’m Not So Sure

By at 10:13 am

melting-candle

“Do you believe in God, Mama?”

A hard lump of something rose up from deep in my chest and got lodged in my throat.

This was the kind of question that pierced right to the heart of things, the kind that forced you to take sides, make a decision, woman up. The kind of question my 4-year-old daughter excels at.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 30 2014

Watch Rare Footage of Anne Frank Before She Went Into Hiding

By at 2:12 pm

anne-frank

Today, reading “The Diary of Anne Frank” is a rite of passage for every Jewish middle schooler. But once upon a time, Anne was just a normal, carefree girl, on the cusp of adolescence, taking in the world around her.

The day is July 22, 1941; the scene is the Franks’ next door neighbor getting married. As the handome bride and groom exit the home, the camera cuts to an overlooking window where little Anne can be spotted leaning out to catch a glimpse of the festivities.

One year later, on July 16, 1942, the Frank family would received a call-up notice and go into hiding to avoid deportation. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 3 2014

Don’t Mind the Swastikas at Preschool

By at 1:45 pm

swastika-preschool

What if I told you that my daughter’s preschool was covered in graffiti yesterday and I dropped her off anyway? Would you think I was a bad mom?

How about if I told you that what was scrawled on the school wasn’t obscenities or amateur art, but angry dark swastikas… and I still dropped her off? Are you judging me now?

How about if I said that we are the only Jewish family that goes to that preschool and I STILL dropped her off? Are you shocked yet? Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 28 2014

What I Won’t Teach My Kids About The Holocaust

By at 3:19 pm

holocaust

In 1938, my grandfather escaped Austria on the kindertransport. He was sent to England, where he lived with a family who sponsored him. His parents were sent to the Isle of Wight, where they were prisoners for most of the war. Eventually he made it to the US, where he lived briefly in Ohio before being conscripted into the Army, and sent back to Europe to work as a translator.

The Holocaust is very much a part of my family narrative. It’s part of my history, and it’s important to me, but as I build my own family, I’ve started to think about the ways I want to address this issue with my kids. Here’s what I won’t do:

1. I won’t teach my kids to fear anti-Semitism around every corner.  Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 24 2014

My Complicated Relationship with My Jewishness–And What it Means for My Son

By at 3:03 pm

budapest-synagogue

I recently made a new friend at my son’s preschool. We just moved to a new town and I was excited and anxious to meet new people, find our groove, and get into a new routine. In the first days of our acquaintance, my friend–who was also new to the area–e-mailed me to say that she was excited to find someone with the same worldview and the same sense of Jewishness.

My heart sank as I read her lines. Here it was again: that feeling of being an impostor, a wannabe, a fake. I wanted to immediately clear the air between us, but how to explain my complicated relationship with my own Jewishness?

When we first moved here and I was looking for a preschool for my son, I was relieved to find a Jewish nursery school just down the street from our apartment. When we visited I immediately felt comfortable and I knew that beyond finding a school, I have found a community for my little family. I am not sure what made me believe that, but it was the one certain thing I clung to amidst all the uncertainties of moving. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 17 2014

“Number the Stars” Does More Harm Than Good When it Comes to Holocaust Education

By at 12:06 pm

number-the-stars

Shortly after our discussions on Kveller about the appropriateness of the Purim story for preschoolers, my 4th grader needed to read “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry (whom I will always adore due to the “Anastasia Krupnik” series).

I knew it was a book about the Holocaust, and I decided to read it first, so that I could be prepared for any questions he might have. (I’d initially confused it with another title, which follows the main character and her family all the way to Auschwitz.)

What I found in “Number the Stars,” however, was a book about the Holocaust… kind of. Read the rest of this entry →

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