Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thank You, Thank You

When I was 12 years old, I was going to write Oprah Winfrey. I was going to ask her for a million dollars. It seemed like a good idea at that time. Oprah could do anything. And I was twelve. A few weeks after my brilliant plan to write Oprah for enough money to buy every last toy in Toys-R-Us was hatched - she aired a show where she went through fan letters. One popped up on the screen by a child who wanted a million dollars. She laughed at it. I abandoned the million dollar Oprah letter idea. But I wrote Oprah today. I spent the afternoon in tears, curled up on Rachel's couch (house-sitting), listening to the rain and watching Oprah as she toured Auschwitz with Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. I spent my elementary school years at an Orthodox Hebrew Day School. I remember learning the Jewish dietary laws. What Kosher meant according to the Torah. A smart ass - it could have been me (I honestly don't remember) - asked the Rabbi - "so if someone puts a gun to your head and tells you to eat pork, you're just supposed to let them shoot you in the head?" The Rabbi, whether unamused or simply humorless, looked at us with narrowed yes. "Yes." he said. And that was it. The story has stuck with me this long because I believe that Judaism is not only my faith, but my choice everyday. A matter of loyalty - as all faith is. I think that was the message that our, rather cantankerous, Rabbi was trying to get across to us - albeit rather extreme. It's a matter of loyalty. I always think a little too much after reading or watching something on the Holocaust. I've gotten into arguments with friends about it before. Those who think I shouldn't take it so personally since it didn't happen to me. Since it happened so long ago. I first read 'Night' just last year - for a history class. I had avoided it, because the subject of the Holocaust always upsets me in ways I can't really explain. I cried through most of it. And gained a better understanding of faith and myself when I was done. Wiesel speaks with a soft voice. His eyes - even when not focused on the woman standing at his side - seem focused on something. Old ghosts, maybe. His words and his silence is what makes the lessons of what happened at Auschwitz so intense. His existence is testament. And what he says, are words of an understanding - even if he himself says he doesn't. So I emailed Oprah... "Thank you for your show with Elie Wiesel at Auschwitz," it said. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."