Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
I had no idea that my family heritage was Jewish or that more than twenty of my relatives had died in the Holocaust. I had been brought up to believe in a history of my Czechoslovak homeland that was less tangled and more straightforward than the reality. I had much still to learn about the complex moral choices that my parents and others in their generation had been called on to make—choices that were still shaping my life and also that of the world.
By late in President Bill Clinton’s first term, I had seen several missives from people who had known my parents, who had the names and dates approximately right, and who indicated that my ancestors had been of Jewish origin. One letter, from a seventy-four-year-old woman, arrived in early December 1996; she wrote that her family had been in business with my maternal grandparents, who had been victimized by anti-Jewish discrimination during the war. I compared memories with my sister, Kathy, and brother, John, and also shared the information with my daughters, Anne, Alice and Katie. Since I was in the process of being vetted for secretary of state, I told President Clinton and his senior staff. In January 1997, before we had time to explore further, a hardworking Washington Post reporter, Michael Dobbs, uncovered news that stunned us all: according to his research, three of my grandparents and numerous other family members had died in the Holocaust.
In February 1997, Kathy, John, and John’s wife, Pamela, visited the Czech Republic; they confirmed much of what had been in the Post story and identified a few errors. That summer, I was able to make two similar though briefer trips. For me, the moment of highest emotion came inside Prague’s Pinkas Synagogue, where the names of our family members were among the eighty thousand inscribed on the walls as a memoriam. I had been to the synagogue before but—having no cause—had never thought to search for their names.
Albright’s story reminds me of my own mothers—except she lost no family (that we know of) in the Holocaust—or of Christopher Hitchens’. Not because the key details line up clearly, but for the general late discovery of a family secret of Jewishness. It reinforces for how little we often know about where we come from.
As I’ve written before, a desire to better understand where I came from led me on my Jew-ish journey:
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May 1, 2012 | 8:08 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Did I just see Celtics small forward Paul Pierce Tebowing during Game 2 against the Hawks? Guess so, via Awful Announcing:
Paul Pierce Tebows on the Hawks logo at midcourt after two free throws. That was random.
May 1, 2012 | 12:18 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Chuck Colson was an incredible story of religious redemption—and political rebound.
Late in life, Colson was an advisor to the George W. Bush administration. Karl Rove, who grew up as a Presbyterian in Utah, recently spoke with Christianity Today about “Colson’s impact politically, culturally, and spiritually.”
In an interview with Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Rove said:
He is the ultimate story of redemption. In all of my dealings with him in the last 15–20 years, I found him to be one of the most kind and gentle and thoughtful human beings I’ve ever met. His life was a witness to his deep faith, and he nurtured the faith of others in deep and profound ways. We can talk about all the things he did to influence our culture and stand for principles of faith. To me, as remarkable as they are, [it’s more remarkable] that he mixed that with a life in which he took a personal interest in the salvation of so many people he came in contact with and did so in a thoughtful, compassionate, and caring way. I personally benefited from it in the status of my faith and the condition of my soul. It was deeply moving to me and he made a profound difference in my life. What I saw was a profound influence in so many lives he came into contact with.
He was more concerned about the policy. What could be done to broaden the role of faith-based institutions in the public square? What efforts was the President willing to make, whether it was children of prisoners or to help ensure faith-based groups had a bigger role in anti-recidivism efforts. His attitude was, “You have bright, young people involved in the politics. Can I talk to you about substantive questions of policy?”
Chuck was willing to talk politics, but he was more interested in policy. Chuck was interested in Sudan, Chuck was interested in faith-based institutions, Chuck played a role in encouraging the White House to adopt a program of mentors and support for children of prisoners. Chuck’s influence was not limited to, “What are evangelicals thinking?” He was willing to provide guidance on that, but he was more interested in, “Here’s what an evangelically-minded President ought to be concerned about in fulfillment of the admonition that ‘To whom much is given, from him much is expected.’”
Read the rest here.