Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Onwards and upwards, please?

Shalom from damp and drizzy, sticky, humid Washington DC.

Believe it or not, I haven't thought much about my tattoo lately. I'm getting used to seeing it there, and am frankly bored with my reaction to it. How much tearing of hair and wailing, gnashing of teeth, etc. can one woman tolerate? Good lord.

I bring it up today because of this story in the New York Times, that - may I be frank here? - I found appalling. Recently I read Avraham Burg's provocative book, The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise from its Ashes. It's the first time I've read or heard of anyone who thinks that the Holocaust is something we can - and should - begin to let go of, so we can heal and renew Judaism. It's a really interesting book. Wow.

I thought it was just me who worried that the very sincere and important desire to remember the Holocaust has been corrupted, turned into a brand, a tourist destination, and because it's such big business, keeps many people in a perpetual state of paranoia and fear. To even suggest we can let it unwind infuriates some, frightens others. There's a weird superstition around how we think about the Holocaust. I think it's bizarre and not healthy.

There is at least one other person, this Israeli lefty politician, who agrees. Thank god.

But, back to the NYT review of a documentary about people who are having their family's numbers tattooed on their own arms. I was aghast to see pictures of the tattoos these people received. I get the idea behind it, but what they're doing, I can tell you from the perspective of the wiccan priestess I once was, is really bad magic.

Hence I'm thinking about my tattoo in a new light. Yes it has to do with the Holocaust, but the magic of my tattoo is meant to invoke transformation and healing from the Shoah's dark spiral. That's why I purposely put it on my right arm, not the left, and why it's a big ole chunky modern Hebrew version of the word "Shalom."

I always tell myself that I no longer do magic, but really who am I trying to fool? Of course I still do. I worry about the people in the movie, branding themselves with the same scars that their parents and grandparents received. It seems very wrong to me.


Steve Reed said...

I saw an article about that phenomenon, though I admit I didn't read it closely. It does seem strange to brand yourself with a number that your grandparents would certainly have opted NOT to be branded with. I get the whole remembering thing, but you don't need to go that far to remember!

Reya Mellicker said...

It's like purposely prolonging the suffering.