Not the Holocaust

I grew up during the 1960s near Skokie, Ill., the Chicagoland home to the largest number of Holocaust survivors in the nation. Many of my Jewish friends and classmates were the children of survivors who had seen all their loved ones perish under the Nazi regime. For these children, the Holocaust was the “unspeakable,” ever-present in the shadows, a burden they were required to carry forward down the generations.

How could anyone else ever understand? Maybe they never could. This lack of understanding is fully apparent in recent letters by frustrated folks who compare the inconvenience of mask mandates to the insidious restrictions of the Nazi regime.

From where I stand, there can be no comparison between mask mandates that stop the spread of plague, and mandates of shame that forced Jews to wear an identifying yellow star. The yellow star mandate spread hatred and fear, and enabled the Nazis to separate Jews from the rest of the population in anticipation of their “Final Solution.” In comparison, our mask mandates, so vital to our survival, are ridiculously benign.

As a mother, I have agonized over the iconic World War II photograph of the terrified Jewish boy, “Jacob,” marked for death, who stands petrified, caught by the Gestapo in photographic time, his hands upraised forever at the point of a gun. I have prayed that he survived.

If he did, it would only have been by some miracle. However, our children have a better chance, if we all wear masks and receive the vaccine. Whether we like it or not, the delta strain is here, and with it comes a new holocaust of death. Yet, with this holocaust, we have the means to keep our children safe. Jacob’s parents did not.

Lisa Kliger


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