On Tuesday night, I peeled myself away from a satisfying read of Daniel Mendelsohn’s “The Lost” to satiate my appetite for community connection on a holiday. Though appropriate material for erev Tisha B’Av, a tinge of curiosity as to what JConnectLA and Birthright had in store prompted me to drag myself out of Bolechow, Ukraine to attend “A Time to Cry” at the Museum of Tolerance.
After navigating the winding pathways of a museum under construction, I found my way into a small, dark theater and plopped into a seat as the film began. While Kevin Costner narrated, I scanned the room, checking out the (hip) crowd and counting heads. Twenty-three…twenty-four…twenty-five, as the ingression of a few grungy looking youngsters tip-toed in even later than myself. A mere twenty-five? Blogger Luke Ford reported attending along with a crowd of 200. Wouldn’t I have noticed an exodus of 175 people? To clarify the discrepancy, I emailed JConnectLA’s program director Michal. Her records reflect a count of 150. Math was never my strong suit but something here doesn’t add up. (***NOTE: Apparently, my tardiness precluded me from knowing or even noticing that there was another theatre, quite full, and I was in the overflow room.)
Truth be told, I was less bothered by the thin turnout than the documentary “Ever Again.” The Museum’s own Moriah Films presented a disturbing collection of anti-Semitic incidents and propaganda currently consuming Europe. The more than two-hour documentary depicted an apocalyptic message for the Jews: lots of people in Europe hate us and daily plot our demise.
I drove home downtrodden. Was I upset because I had to listen to my “Dances With Wolves” hero document distaste for my people and for me? Or was it more unsettling to consider the effect of such a repetitious recounting in propagating the hatred the Museum of Tolerance is trying to suppress?
Regardless, from “The Lost” to the ludicrous, this Tisha B’Av made me realize that no matter who seeks our destruction, no matter what is lost from the physical world, we retain our memory—even if it’s only twenty-five Jews remembering together.
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