We live in a pluralistic community here in southeast Seattle. Even how we celebrate time varies.
According to the Gregorian (standard) calendar, the new year started on January 1, 2021. But the Ethiopian New Year starts Sept. 11and the year will be 2013. Islam just celebrated New Year the second week of August and it’s now 1443. Chinese Lunar New Year was in February and it’s 4719. The Hindi New Year of 2078 happened in April.
Some calendars are solar, or solar-lunar, while others are lunar based. You get the idea: Time is measured, explained, and observed differently around the world and, therefore, here in the South End, too.
One of the biggest privileges of being Jewish in moments like these, when the world feels like it’s caving in on itself, is that we get to ring in a new year in the middle of the fall. Yes, it marks a time of serious spiritual self-questioning and atonement, with hours-long services and liturgy replete with some stone-cold allusions to who will die and who gets to live another year. New Year’s Eve it is not.
But ultimately, we dress up our tables with fish heads (for a new start), pomegranates (filled with seeds that supposedly equal the number of mitzvoth, or good deeds, but don’t try to count them …), and apples dipped in honey (to bless our year with sweetness) and get to wave a fond farewell to 5,781, the current year of the Jewish lunar calendar.
Since it’s a time of reflection, I’m looking at the past to illuminate the future. And what I’m realizing on the eve of this time-bound holiday — which, quite strangely, falls on Labor Day this year — is that our clocks are broken. No, not our Fitbits, our internal clocks. Since 2019, our lives have been compressed into an unnatural pattern of bursts of change and excruciating stasis. We are, simply put, out of sync with the passage of time. On top of the grief and inequalities that compound on a daily basis, the compressed way in which we are forced to take in life’s IRL splendors — for those of us who are lucky to not be immunocompromised — is grinding us down. Numbing us. This is the season of quitting, haven’t you heard?
For more than a century, philosopher George Santayana’s warning has been often repeated: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day when we stop to remember the Holocaust, in which as many as 17.5 million people were systematically tortured and murdered by the Nazi regime between 1939–1945 throughout Europe. The largest groups that Hitler targeted were Jews, Slavs, and Romani people. LGBTQIA+ people, the mentally or physically disabled, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Freemasons, People of Color, leftists, and dissidents made up the majority of the non-Jews who were also murdered. There were others, such as trade unionists, members of the Baha’i Faith, Catholics, Protestants, Socialists and others whom Hitler considered “unpure.”
What does “unpure” mean? It was the main driver of Aryan race propaganda, which is a legacy of American slave-owning racist ideology. Hitler harnessed the concept and convinced ethnic Germans that they were the superior race. The sophisticated propaganda campaign had a profound effect on the German people and proved to be the gateway to the horrific genocide of historic proportions that occurred during World War II.
The Seattle Globalist was a daily online publication that covered the connections between local and global issues in Seattle. The Emerald is keeping alive its legacy of highlighting our city’s diverse voices by regularly publishing and re-publishing stories aligned with the Globalist‘s mission.
(A version of this article originally appeared in the Seattle Globalist.)
“I know your grandmother’s real name.”
Those were the words of Denise Grollmus’ mother on her 28th birthday — the day she found out she was Jewish.
The Holocaust destroyed most of the Jewish population in Poland before 1945. Jews that survived did so by physically going into hiding or by renouncing their Jewish identity.
That’s what Grollmus’ grandmother did. In Nazi-controlled Poland, the family begun masquerading as Catholic to avoid persecution … and kept the charade going for generations.
by Bobbe Bridge (former Washington Supreme Court Justice)
As I write, millions — maybe billions — of words have been dedicated in print and orally to the life and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: the law professor; the lawyer for the ACLU winning landmark rulings at the United States Supreme Court; the federal District Court Judge; the Supreme Court Justice; the Notorious RBG. She became an iconic figure in her later years, an idol in a black robe and lace collars — collars that were carefully selected (like her own words) to signal her meaning.
Every year, Karen Treiger and her husband gather together with their family from across the world to celebrate Passover. They all unite from as far away as Israel, and spend a little more than a week together, she said, eight days that begin with two huge Passover seders, the name for the holiday’s feasts. It’s usually a joyful, warm affair, filled with quality family time, and opportunities to catch up with one another in person.
But the global outbreak of COVID-19 has changed all that. This year, Passover, which begins April 8, will be a smaller, quieter affair. Familiar faces will be absent. They’ll still hide the afikomen, but it won’t be as much fun, without kids to look for it alongside adults. The couple will not get to see some of their own children and other family members. It’s just not safe. Still, Treiger counts herself lucky, because she has family in the area.
“It won’t just feel like me and my husband sitting at the tables by ourselves, which, I think, for some people, it will be. And that is going to be really hard,” she said.