Actor Josh Gad Says His Grandparents' Holocaust Story Feels More Relevant Than Ever – Kveller
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Actor Josh Gad Says His Grandparents’ Holocaust Story Feels More Relevant Than Ever

The Disney star shared a sharp and moving post about his grandparents' story for Yom Hashoah.

Josh Gad & Andrew Rannells In Conversation With Josh Horowitz

via Rob Kim/Getty Images

Yom Hashoah, the Jewish and Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day, took place this past Sunday through Monday night.  Jewish actor Josh Gad, who voiced “Olaf” in Frozen and recently starred in “Wolf Like Me” opposite Isla Fisher, wrote a poignant and incisive post about his own family’s Holocaust history, and how this past year he has felt it come to life more than ever before.

On Instagram, Gad shared a picture of himself as a young man with his maternal grandparents. When they were the age that he is at in the picture, “they were stripped away from their parents (whom they would never see again because all four parents would be murdered) and put into Concentration camps,” he wrote.

“For nearly half a decade and the remainder of their youth, they would be forced to work for their oppressors while surviving on nothing but scraps of bread. They would be tortured and humiliated and branded like cattle,” he wrote, adding that they only managed to escape the Nazis by “sheer strength and will power,” each running for safety during the death marches out of the camps.

Gad recalls them always saying the slogan that we often share about the Holocaust — “never forget.” Yet, it is only now, at age 43, that he is “beginning to understand their warning,” he shared.

“The most disturbing part is that I am certain my own comment section on this Holocaust Remembrance Day will be hijacked to spew hate, propaganda and vileness, all while avoiding the purpose of this post,” he lamented, which is “to remember that we are only two generations removed from a world that would round up and slaughter six million humans for nothing more than their identity and faith.”

“It is my prayer on this day that we can build a world that learns from its lessons. My heart breaks today for every child now dealing with their own trauma from a never-ending cycle of hate, rage and death. We never seem to learn from the past,” he ended his post with, “even when the past is still around to warn us.”

While there were indeed hostile comments and vitriolic arguments in the comment section of the post, Gad got a lot of love and support, including from his “Book of Mormon” and “Gutenberg! The Musical” co-star Andrew Rannells, Kristen Chenoweth and Jewish icon Monica Lewinsky, to name but a few.

Jewish actress Gina Gershon shared her appreciation for the post, writing: “Beautifully put. It’s so sad that ignorance, and fear just lead to hate. [I’m] so sorry about what your grandparents went through.”

Gad has often been outspoken about his Jewish heritage. His mother was born in Germany after his grandparents survived the Holocaust. His father was born in Afghanistan, and he and his family settled in Israel when his father was 13.

Gad has been able to pay tribute to his Jewish heritage in his work, too. He played an estranged Jewish son (from Mandy Patinkin, no less!) in Zach Braff’s “Wish I Were Here,” and in the 2017 movie Marshall, he played lawyer Samuel Friedman, who worked with future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, played in the movie by the late and great Chadwick Boseman.

Friedman’s character reminded Gad of his own Jewish grandparents.

“The stories of my grandparents surviving the camp makes the chance to play this hero who had to deal with anti-Semitism — though obviously in a much less sinister environment — personal, ” he told JTA back then. “I wish my grandparents were alive to see this very personal part of my journey.”

“Unfortunately, the problems of racism and anti-Semitism are as relevant today as they were in the 1940s,” he shared. “Trying to overcome anti-Semitism, fighting people who want to reverse the progress we’ve made in civil rights the last 50 years is important to me,” adding, “It would be easier to ignore it and just talk about a new project I have coming up than to stand up for what is right. I come from a family that almost lost its entire family. I had to speak up.”

Most recently, he’s exploring antisemitism, racism and Jewish folklore in a brand new medium, as the co-creator of “The Writer,” a new comic book series from Dark Horse, for which he’s worked with brother team Benjamin and Max Berkowitz, and which is illustrated by Marvel artist Ariel Olivetti. “The Writer,” whose first issue comes out this June, tells the story of author Stan Seigel, whose “life takes an unexpected and dark turn when he is plunged into a Nazi occult-fueled nightmare,” according to the press release.

“‘The Writer’ isn’t just a comic; it’s a milestone for nerds like us, proving heroes come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds,” Gad shared in a statement.

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