A documentary to you and me, real life for others

A documentary to you and me, real life for others April 17, 2014

This month of April is well-known for recognizing and remembering the Holocaust. The monthly ‘Journeys’ lecture series that I attend, 1st Sunday of each month (at the stark hour of 8am), showed a documentary that honored one of the victims of the Holocaust.  I could go into lots of gritty detail about the significance of this 50 minute film, but that’s not what I want to point out here.

What is important to share with you dear reader, is the diverse crowd that was in attendance for the showing.  We normally have a crowd of 30 for breakfast and a lecture, but this morning the house was packed with near 60 attendees! As per usual, I arrived in good time after the buffet crowd had thinned, but with plenty of time to chat with my table-mates before the lecture/movie begins.  I try to sit at a different table each time to mingle with new people, always putting myself out there to learn about another’s faith or culture.

This particular day, by the time I arrived, the only seats left open were unknowingly next to a kindred interfaith-er, who also happens to be Jewish.

I didn’t think anything of it. I just knew that I was there at this breakfast/lecture/movie to support my notion of interfaith, to see a new documentary showing another effect of the horrendous events that even though it occurred over half a century ago, the weight of those tragic deeds still holds so much bearing on the lives of the Jewish people today.

Or so, I found this last bit out in gritty detail the day of the documentary.

See, for me, and most likely for a person such as yourself, watching a documentary on the holocaust might be like watching a horror movie. You go into the theatre with your popcorn and soda, trying not to throw ‘corn and drink around as you jump in your seat every time the scary music comes on, and the girl screams. The movie finishes, you get up from your seat, heart still pounding a little, throw away your crumpled popcorn bag and empty soda into the trash can (hopefully), and leave the movie complex.  It was a great experience while you were in there, but now it’s over, and time to get back “to the real world.”  {if the horror movie analogy doesn’t work for you, replace it with the concept of a really good drama flick – something with lots of sadness, heart-breaking scenes, even a bit of a love story – does “The Notebook” come to mind?}

What I learned during this month’s interfaith Journeys breakfast/lecture series is that for a Jewish person watching a holocaust documentary – it is not at all like that horror movie I described.

It’s personal. It’s real life for them. I learned this month that what I take for granted as an educational platform is a real life experience a Jewish person lives with every day.

This became glaringly obvious when we were about 30 minutes into the documentary, a projected image of a young Jewish boy’s life before he went to Auschwitz.  The creators of this documentary put all the cute fluff about the boy at the beginning.  It was really sweet.  He liked to write, and apparently had a talent for drawing cartoons.

It was during the moment of awareness in the documentary that the little boy did not make it out of Auschwitz that my interfaith-Jewish colleague became overwhelmed with emotions of grief and sadness that he had to get up and leave the room. My heart went out to him, as I had been holding his hand a few moments prior when I saw him put his face in his hands in an attempt to hold back the tears.

The point of sharing this experience with you, dear reader, is a reminder to all of us, to always be mindful of others’ perceptions and viewpoints. Take into consideration that what might just be a ‘horror flick’ for you or I, is in fact, a hurtful reminder of horrific grievances done to a culture of people that are only trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got. This is, in fact, what we ALL are trying to do.


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