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Archive for January 2015

Holocaust Remembering, and Yes, Jokes, too.

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None of my relatives were killed in the holocaust. At least, no one that I knew. My grandparents came to this country in the late 1800’s and if I had ancestry over d’ere, they probably died in pogroms before Hitler had the idea to erase all Jewry.

Because my father ran a movie theater, I was exposed early on to the horrific news footage that was brought back by cameraman during WW2. The emaciated naked bodies of Europe’s Jews and Gypsies were an early image in my head. I watched lots of cartoons, too, but the films of the first cinematically archived genocide were my key to understanding that life can’t be understood.

I am not religious. I’ve appreciated certain laws of the Torah when explained, but those conversations are rare. I like the symbolism of the holidays, but I don’t keep them much anymore. The one thing, however, that always reminds me that I’m Jewish is first, humor and second, the Holocaust.  I laugh at myself before others catch the joke and I have a deep identification with the six million who perished at the hands of the mad machine.  I am a perfect combination in that I can even laugh at weird holocaust jokes that I’ve seen online, like “Why did Hitler kill himself” …”He got the gas bill”…awful, awful, but a release to laugh and cry every time I see The Diary of Anne you-know-who.

I’d hardly be the first to consider the importance of the Holocaust in reminding Jews that they are Jewish. Perhaps a younger generation feels the connection less strongly, but for my crowd, people who never ventured inside a synagogue except to attend a Bar Mitzvah or crash Joan Rivers’ funeral, the mere mention of Hitler and these pagans are suddenly reunited with their roots. Maybe a few generations after the Great Forty Day Schlep through the Sinai, people talked about the hardship and experienced their communal pain and rage at Moses as if it were yesterday. Disasters have a way of uniting people.

The Holocaust, many feel, justifies Israel’s right to exist, even when they may secretly abhor the violence that continues there with the Palestinians.  Surviving an ordeal like the Holocaust is a terrible wound and if one would let it, could be one of the best excuses to do nothing.  The Irony is that survivors rarely used excuses but continued to live life so fully that it takes one’s breath away. I remember once staying in the Catskills, at Grossingers Hotel, and my Father commenting on how much food the diners were consuming at the table next to us. Every time a waiter asked if more grub was required, they all yelled yes, and platters of food came marching out, like soldiers. When my Mother told us that she had overheard they had all been at one of the camps, all refugees, it occurred to me that they may have felt like they were still starving inside. And yet they showed up.

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance, I just finished A.N. Wilson’s bio on the little man, Adolf and saw the very good one man show, Wiesenthal, about Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi hunter.  I may attend more events or I might just watch The Producers again. Either way, it’s a story that sticks in ribs and never lets me forget that I’m lucky, one, and two, a Jew.

Written by nancykoan

January 29, 2015 at 3:51 am

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Could this event have triggered the Charlie Hebdo massacre?

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(c) The Art Newspaper 1/3/15

My first reaction to the tragedy in Paris was to post my own irreverent art as a symbol of solidarity (under lambstara on twitter). Then as I cooled off, not hard to do in this weather, I immersed myself in radio chat and Facebook reactions.   Weeding through diverse responses, though mostly shock and sadness like my own, I was sent an email from an art website.

According to the The Art Newspaper (1/3/14), France was to hold a  conference next week at The Institut du Monde in Paris. Its purpose was to attempt to bring closeness and understanding by “offering a more hopeful vision of the Arab world, than the well-known brutalities of the Islamic State and civil war in the Middle East.” Entitled “The Renewal of the Arab World”, it was to look at the areas in which it believes change is most needed–to develop an economically thriving, liberal, civil society, beginning with teaching methods. There would be talks on fostering   entrepreneurship, renewable energy, the emergence of women (one of the speakers is Lama Al Sulaiman, the deputy chairwoman of the chamber of commerce and industry in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) and how creativity and the art market are pushing the boundaries. This segment would be chaired by a woman, Anna Somers Cocks. Wow.

Zaki Nusseibeh, a senior figure in the Emirati political world, and Antonia Carver of the Art Dubai art fair, and four Emirati museum women were on the slate as well as business people and intellectuals from all over the Arab world. And dinner at the Quai d’Orsay. Magnifique. With Jack Lang, The Institut’s president since 2013, it would be a great affair; after all, he was the radical minister of culture (1981-86 and 1988-92) under President François Mitterrand and has been the force behind the revival.

What will he do now?

It occurred to me that this act of terrorism could have been a way to destabilize the efforts of Monsieur Lang and the Institut. It may have been cooked up to destroy an event that had the potential to shift ideological positions. For certainly art and culture can do that. Art is dangerous, especially for groups that want war and thrive on hatred. Art has the power to open up the heart and help change the mind, two things that extremists seemingly cannot tolerate.

I hope it is not cancelled.

Written by nancykoan

January 9, 2015 at 3:57 am

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Viva la liberte de expression you bastards!!

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Union Square Wednesday January 7

In support of the writers and artists who met their end at the hands of fear manipulating brigands, I offer up my own humorous slant, playing with religious  images as a demonstration of the freedom we still enjoy in this country and one which all people should have. In this case, it’s Jesus and Mary, tomorrow Jeremiah and Moses, maybe even the Buddah.

jedsus20150107_213303“Jesus IS a Feminist”


jesustit20150107_213350“The dingo did not get my baby.”

Written by nancykoan

January 8, 2015 at 3:12 am