6 Million and a young kid’s faith, by Joe Yalowitz

A year ago a 12-year-old aspiring sports scribe named Joe Yalowitz wrote a post for this blog about Alex Rodriguez and steroids. I hadn’t heard from Joe, now 13, until today, when he asked me to consider running something he wrote.

Here it is. How could I not run the piece? Great job, Joe …

As a 13-year-old Jewish kid, I have doubts on this so called “God.” From a young age, the word God is thrown at me over and over again, urging me to believe it. I don’t. I elude the trap.

In Hebrew school, we hear all about the evil Hitler, and his rise to power. We hear the terror, and we see the hate. Yet, it never feels real. Some part of it always feels artificial, and fake. We never really respect what we are learning, or even care about it. Larchmont Temple must have caught wind of this, because everything changed this afternoon.

It seemed like an average day of Hebrew School. Must of us would arrive 10 minutes late and fool around until 5:30, when we are set free. However, I could feel the energy as we walked in today. We were ushered upstairs, where an old man was putting up black and white photos of the Holocaust. Great, I thought, more boring speeches about the Holocaust. But as we all sat down, and the old man opened his mouth, something was different. The man was a survivor. He spoke of how he was treated like dirt by officials, beaten as a kid, neglected, and forced to go into hiding—all because of his religion. He spoke of being separated from everyone he knew and loved. He spoke of all the things we already knew, but this time we could all believe it. It occurred to me that this man had been through hell, and that he truly was a survivor. I could feel God in that room, as the old man spoke. He ended by saying how proud he is to be a Jew, and how we should never feel otherwise. All the hate, all the anti-Semitism, and all the Jew jokes melted away, and for the first time, I felt proud to wear the gold star around my neck.