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.

6 thoughts on “6 Million and a young kid’s faith, by Joe Yalowitz”

  1. Don’t believe it. Just because something feels strange, connective, and important doesn’t mean that there’s a god. Religions appeal to our weaknesses. They make us want something better, and they use strategies like this to make us want it more.

    The Holocaust is possibly the worst thing to ever happen to any group of people on this planet. The people who went through it, and survived, are stronger than I’ll ever be, and they have mt respect and admiration. Their faith may have been strengthened by their experience, and their stories are real, powerful, and they certainly doengender a warranted pathos on a massive scale.

    But that doesn’t make the arguments for a god true.

    It makes the appeals emotional; it makes them worthy of compassion; it makes them deserving of our attention so that we can make sure it never happens again. Anti-semitism and Jewish hate are things we need to eliminate; they are some of the greatest and most prevalent scourges the the world has ever known. It is irrational, insane, and completely undeserved.

    But it doesn’t make god real.

  2. Keane, this young man experienced something today that he had never experienced before. He had a chance to listen to someone who survived one of the most, if not the most, horrific time on this earth. He was touched by the things he heard. He is now exploring his faith, questioning and accepting. He will probably continue to do so in the future. He may do so for the rest of his life. But today is the day something came into his life that was new, and he is embracing it. He doesn’t need to hear your opinion of the existence of God today. Not today.

  3. Joe – serious question for you. Do kids today really not care about the Holocaust, or at least think it’s interesting? That’s really depressing.

  4. DG, in my opinion, as another generation Y Jewish kid, it’s not so much that kids don’t care about the Holocaust, its that the Holocaust is no longer a relatable topic to them. Their parents are not Nazi survivors or WWII veterans, the Holocaust is just another chapter of history to them, and one skirted over by most public school curricula because it can be such a touchy subject to those who make the curricula, who are of the previous generation, when the memory of all that happened was still prevalent, and had a much greater influence on the people.

    Joe, this is a terrific piece of writing and you should definitely keep at it. Remember that there are stories to be found everywhere that need telling, and you’ve got a great voice. 🙂

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