All my kids went to
In his day, everybody went to
So that's the good part. The part I can't quite make my peace with has to do with the concept of going to the camps as tourists. Part of me—a big part—doesn't want my children anywhere near those places. I believe in the palpable reality of evil in this world—as must anyone who knows what all of us know about the Shoah—and I don't want my children to be anywhere close. I'm not the kind of person who admires people who deal with bad things by turning away or by sticking their heads in the sand, but there is something I just can't quite accept about the notion of sending our children to these places—to places of the greatest, most unspeakable evils, to places so suffused with suffering, with misery and with death that, even after all these years, their names alone retain the ability to terrify—just so they can take a good look and learn something. I know, I know...but, still, I can't be relaxed about the thought of a child of mine—or any of our children—willingly going to such a place, even despite the enormous educative potential inherent in such a visit. Joan thinks I'm overreacting. Truth be told, even I think I'm overreacting...and I didn't stand in Emil's way or attempt to dissuade him from going. But I'm a father far more profoundly and importantly than I'm a Jewish educator. I am a Jewish educator, and I do value, enormously, the experiential component in education.
And I certainly also understand that, in addition to everything else, Auschwitz is the world's biggest Jewish cemetery (and, that, by millions) and the mitzvah of visiting the graves of our forebears applies to the martyrs just as profoundly as to any others of our people, and probably a thousand times more profoundly. I know, I know...but I just don't want my children in that place. I know all the reasons I shouldn't feel this way. I actually agree with them all. I just do feel as I do...and I'm not really going to be a happy camper again until I hear that Emil is in Tel Aviv.
Over the years, I've had chances myself to go to the camps. I went to