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I can still picture the scene vividly in my mind. I had been away from home for some years and was back to visit my parents. My mother and I were alone in the car. She was driving. Our conversation edged into dangerous territory when she informed me that a man from the church in which I grew up had been arrested for child abuse.
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I have been thinking about Tiger… the golfer, or perhaps now more famously, the man who betrayed Elin. It seems I am not alone in having given some thought lately to the famous athelete from Florida.

But it is not the golf part of Tiger’s life that intrigues me.
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It is a venerable institution, shaped by centuries of tradition, ritual, and religious practice. It has inspired people for thousands of years and continues to hold a cherished place in many hearts.

But there are problems.

This great institution “has been racked with repeated scandals,” and “is in desperate need of reform yet is seemingly unwilling to muster the courage for true change.” It is said to be “suffering an existential crisis,” which is “eroding its popularity.” It “must change” or it may not “even survive the next 100 years.”
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Thirty-three years ago today, I stood in a church in front of about a hundred people. My knees shook. My stomach fluttered and my heart was racing.

But my voice was strong and confident when I said,

I Christopher take thee Heather to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.

I was twenty-three years old. I knew absolutely nothing. But I knew that at this moment I was doing the right thing; I knew I was saying words that my heart called out to utter. I had no idea what the future might hold. And yet, I stood and made bold promises in which I committed my life to this one person.
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Historians have noticed that when Germans are asked about the uncomfortable issue of the Holocaust, many quickly bring up the war. ‘The Jewish war,’ as some Germans described it is remembered as a disaster for the German people as victims. The bombings stood out as the German civilian war experience. This is not the place to analyze how their self-image as victims might have alleviated German responsibility, embarrassment, or guilt regarding the genocide, nor how much serious damage was actually wrought. Kaplan, Marion A. Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life In Nazi Germany

I have reflected elsewhere on my own experiences as a child being introduced to the mysterious forbidden world of sexuality by predatory grown up men. (“Truth Telling” April 13, 2010) I might well be described as a “victim” of these adults who abused their position of privilege and power in my life. I have no doubt that I suffered a complex emotional wounding from these experiences in my pre-teen years.

But, as I think about those adult males in my past who took advantage of the positions entrusted to them, I have no doubt that they acted out of the wounds, brokenness and unresolved hurts of their own early experiences of childhood and youth. No doubt the same could be said for those who perpetrated monstrous violence against the Jews in Europe and presumably even Hitler himself.
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Dear Sophianna,

Today you are three years old. It is almost impossible to imagine that three years ago we did not know you. We had no idea what an extraordinary person was about to enter our lives. Since then you have come to occupy such a big place in our world. You have discovered and learned so much in the first three years of your life.
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Jewish documentary filmmaker Yoav Shamir in his 2009 film “Defamation,” set out to discover if antisemitism represents a serious threat to Jews today. As the narrator of the film Shamir explains that growing up in Israel he never experienced antisemitism but heard endlessly about it in the Israeli media. So, he wanted to discover for himself if antisemtism still represented a real force in the world.

Shamir is helped in his search by the New York based Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL). With a budget of over $70 million a year the ADL is the world’s biggest and most influential Jewish lobby group, tracking the slightest hint of antisemitism wherever it may appear. In Shamir’s film the ADL does not appear to be able to come up with many credible examples of antisemitism. But ADL members are shown doing a lot of wining and dining with rich and powerful leaders around the world.
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I do not pretend to fully grasp the Jewish argument for the uniqueness of the Holocaust. But I do know that Jewish scholars are not saying that the Jewish Holocaust was worse than any other genocide. They are certainly not trying to diminish the horror and injustice of so many other terrible events that blot the story of human history by elevating the Holocaust above all other atrocities.
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The Jewish Holocaust raises many questions that must be confronted. One of the contentious issues surrounding the study of the Holocaust is the question of uniqueness. There have been countless horrific acts of terror and injustice perpetrated throughout history. But, many scholars argue that a number of characteristics make the Jewish Holocaust distinct from these other tragedies.
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In her book Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life In Nazi Germany, Marion Kaplan sets herself an extraordinary task. She attempts to recreate the experience of ordinary Jewish people living in Germany between the rise to power of the Nazis and the end of Nazi rule with Germany’s defeat at the end of the Second World War. Kaplan has read the diaries, memoirs and correspondence of Jews who lived and many of whom died in this terrible period of world history. She has interviewed survivors and read the historical accounts of the time in her attempt to recreate life for the Jew under Nazi rule.
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